US-backed group in last push to defeat IS in northeast Syria

BEIRUT (AP) – A US-backed Syrian fighting force said yesterday it has begun the final stage of its campaign to clear Islamic State (IS) group militants from northeast Syria.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said it launched operations on Monday to expel IS militants from the town of Hajin and surrounding villages on the northeast banks of the Euphrates River.

The SDF is supported by the US-led international coalition against IS.

The coalition said in a statement it was supporting the SDF ground operation with air and artillery strikes.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said coalition jets bombed locations across the IS pocket in conjunction with the SDF ground offensive. At least 23 IS fighters were killed in the first 24 hours of battle, according to the Observatory.