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Trump Administration Backs Syrian Democratic Forces Driving ISIS From Their Last Stronghold

The U.S.-allied Syrian Democratic Forces launched an offensive this week against one of the Islamic State militant group's last strongholds within Syria, according to the Department of Defense. The news was also heralded by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said the operation was coordinated with allies in both Iraq and Syria.

“We welcome the launch on Sunday of operations by the Syrian Democratic Forces against ISIS terrorists in Dashisha, Syria. Dashisha is a notorious ISIS stronghold in northeast Syria from which ISIS has terrorized the Syrian and Iraqi people for many years. These operations have been planned over many months in coordination with Iraqi forces across the border to ensure ISIS terrorists have no escape,” Pompeo said in a statement Tuesday. “The Department of State has been proud to lend diplomatic support through this planning process together with our Department of Defense colleagues and Coalition Partners,” Pompeo added.

President Donald Trump had made the defeat of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, a central part of his foreign policy agenda. The administration’s Department of Defense said that the ground operation led by the Syrian Democratic Forces was being “bolstered by coordinated coalition cross-border air and artillery strikes.” Iraqi security forces and air forces are also contributing some support to the operation. The fighting is expected to drag on for days.  

The Syrian Democratic Forces is a coalition of Kurdish and Arab fighters that the U.S. supports in Syria. The group has a close relationship with Washington, and one of its affiliated organizations has opened an office in the nation's capital, according to documents filed with the Justice Department.

“We have full confidence in our partners, the Syrian Democratic Forces, and we are proud to work with them to rid Syria from the scourge of ISIS and help build a better future for all Syrians. President Trump has acknowledged that there is more work to be done to complete the defeat of ISIS and he is committed to finishing the job as quickly as possible while setting the conditions that will prevent its return,” Pompeo noted Tuesday.

Over the past several months, the U.S. claims that its allies successfully recaptured almost all of the territory in Iraq and Syria that was once held by ISIS. Dashisha, near the border between Iraq and Syria, is one of the last places where the group continues to operate. As the extremist Sunni Islamic organization continues to lose territory, it has called for lone wolf attacks through social media.