French artillery hammers Hajin as SDF advances on ISIS holdouts
Kurdistan Region — Syrian Democratic Forces entered ISIS-held Baghuz and Hajin in eastern Deir ez-Zor province on Saturday with heavy artillery support from the US-led international coalition.
French forces, as part of the coalition, targeted the enclave with some 70 shells in one hour, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The SDF, an umbrella group of local forces, entered areas around Hajin with the assistance of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) Asayesh (security forces), the Observatory added.
“We will take all this place from ISIS,” the SDF commander “Shergo” said in a video statement.
The coalition and partnered anti-ISIS forces face tunnels, mines, and suicide counterattacks. ISIS has dug tunnels between the towns, necessitating the coaliton ground and air strikes.
The SDF and the US-led international coalition began the third phase of Operation Roundup on September 3 to clear the area east of the Euphrates of ISIS fighters.
The YPG stated their forces concentrated on the Baghuz and Sousse axes. Two machine gun positions were destroyed, and then ISIS used a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) in a counterattack.
The SDF stated they killed 16 opposition fighters, with six of their fighters being wounded and two killed. An SDF demining team cleared 17 mines.
The Observatory reported that three busses and 10 vehicles carrying an unknown number of reinforcements arrived in the area.
Prior to the operation they dropped leaflets informing people of safe routes to flee. It is unclear how many people remain in the area.