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Fighters in Syria contradict Trump's claim of total eradication of IS from Syria

President Donald Trump speaks to service members at Elmendorf Air Force Base. Source: AAP

Commanders fighting IS in Syria say the removal of the last remnant of IS in the country is at least a week away.

The general commander of the US-backed Kurdish fighters leading the six-month operation against IS said the complete dismantling of the IS group's "caliphate" in Syria is at least a week away. 

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are poised to storm the pocket held by jihadists on the edge of the village of Baghouz, the last patch of the organisation's once sprawling "caliphate".

Thousands of men, women and children, have poured out of the riverside hamlet in recent days, posing a huge humanitarian challenge for the US-backed Kurdish fighters leading the operation.

President Donald Trump speaks to service members at Elmendorf Air Force Base.
President Donald Trump speaks to service members at Elmendorf Air Force Base.
AAP

Elimination of IS in Syria imminent: SDF commander

"In around one week, we will declare complete victory over IS," Mazloum Kobani, the general commander of the SDF said in a video released by the group's media office on Thursday.

The remarks came as President Donald Trump claimed Islamic State been wiped out in Syria, losing 100 per cent of the territory it controlled in Syria.

That claim has been contradicted by officials in Washington and accounts from people in Syria say a small sliver of land remains contested.

Trump made a statement to troops in Alaska during a refuelling stop on his way home from meeting in Vietnam with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Thursday.

Soldiers near the front line between the US-backed Syrian Manbij Military Council and the Turkish-backed fighters, in Manbij, north Syria.
Soldiers near the front line between the US-backed Syrian Manbij Military Council and the Turkish-backed fighters, in Manbij, north Syria.
AAP

Not the first time Trump has declared complete victory in Syria

He noted IS had been on the verge of losing its entire so-called caliphate in Syria for many months.

"Now it's 100 per cent we just took over, 100 per cent," he said. "The area, the land, we just have 100 per cent. We did that in a much shorter period of time than it was supposed to be."

When asked about Trump's comments, the Pentagon referred reporters to the White House.

A Syrian woman with her kids walks in front of buildings that were destroyed during the battle between the SDF and IS militants, in Manbi
A Syrian woman with her kids walks in front of buildings that were destroyed during the battle between the SDF and IS militants, in Manbij.
AAP

Trump has jumped the gun on IS before. He said on February 15 "the eradication" of the IS caliphate would be announced within 24 hours but it wasn't and although Pentagon officials remain confident IS is on the brink of defeat, the struggle is not over.

US and other western countries are backing a Syrian group known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, comprised of local Kurdish and Arab fighters, who have battled IS for more than three years.

US officials say IS still hold small area of land

According to a US assessment IS fighters and civilian residents are on in a small sliver of land along the Euphrates River.

Officials say military operations have paused to separate civilians from the IS militants in that area.

The SDF does biometric checks on all adult-aged males to determine if they are IS fighters hiding in the population that is fleeing.

US troops based around the Syrian town of Manbij speaking with residents, in northern Syria on 23/12/18.
US troops based around the Syrian town of Manbij speaking with residents, in northern Syria on 23/12/18.
AAP/The Military Council of Manbij City
 

Officials say military operations to clear out the remaining IS fighters will likely restart soon and will probably take some time.

Iraqi militias say they launched dozens of missiles targeting IS militants holed up in a Syrian village across the border. This is the area along the Euphrates that has been IS's last stand.

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