DEIR AL-ZOR PROVINCE, Syria (Reuters) – U.S.-backed Syrian forces said they were close to defeating Islamic State in its final scrap of territory at Baghouz in eastern Syria after seizing an encampment from the jihadists on Tuesday, though the battle was not over yet. Hardened militant fighters holed up in the encampment had been mounting a last-stand defense of the Baghouz enclave, all that is left of Islamic State’s self-proclaimed “caliphate” that once spanned a third of both Syria and Iraq. “This is not a victory announcement, but a significant progress in the fight against Daesh,” said Mustafa Bali, a media official with the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Twitter, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.
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