The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) launched a final assault Friday on the last pocket held by Daesh terror group in eastern Syria's Deir el-Zour, their spokesman said.
The "operation to clear the last remaining pocket of ISIS has just started," Mustafa Bali, the spokesman of the SDF, a group consisting mainly of PKK-affiliated People's Protection Units (YPG), said in a statement using an alternative name for Daesh.
Bali said the operations to clear Daesh out of the village of Baghouz resumed Friday evening after all civilians were evacuated and hostages that were kidnapped by Daesh were freed.
Officials estimate there are hundreds of Daesh militants in the small patch of territory in Baghouz that sits atop caves and tunnels. The military operation was halted last month to allow for the evacuation of civilians. In the last week alone, 13,000 people left the territory, according to the United Nations.
At least 84 people fleeing Daesh-held areas in Deir el-Zour have died since last December either en route or shortly after arriving at the al-Hol camp, according to a U.N. official on Friday.
"The U.N. in Syria remains gravely concerned about the plight of thousands of civilians fleeing the last (Daesh)-held areas of Baghouz in rural Deir el-Zour governorate after intense hostilities in the area," Jens Laerke, spokesman of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told reporters in Geneva.
Laerke said "175 children have been hospitalized due to medical complications from severe acute malnutrition," citing reports from U.N. agencies and aid groups.
Some 13,000 people, 90 percent women and children, have arrived at the al-Hol camp in Al Hassakeh Governorate in the last week alone, he said, adding that many are "exhausted, hungry and sick.
"Since December 2018, approximately 45,000 people have fled the Hajin and Al-Baghouz areas of Deir el-Zour and arrived at Al Hol camp," he said.
Large numbers of people continue to arrive at the site on a daily basis, which is now operating above capacity.
Daesh now controlled 2 percent of the Syrian territory after it lost the area east of the Euphrates.
But some 28 percent of Syrian lands are under the YPG's occupation.
The U.S. has partnered with the YPG terrorist-dominated SDF in its fight against Daesh, despite Ankara's strong objections that arming one terrorist group to fight another will not achieve the desired ends. The YPG is the Syrian affiliate of the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU.
In its 30-year terrorist campaign, the PKK has taken some 40,000 lives, including women and children.
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