The remnants of ISIS forces in Syria have been moving through areas nominally in the control of the Russian-backed regime with "impunity" from attack as they search for a safe haven, a coalition commander charged Wednesday.
The comments by British Army Major General Felix Gedney indicate that the coalition will rely on the Syrian government to go after ISIS militants in areas controlled by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Fewer than 1,000 Islamic State fighters remain in Iraq and Syria, the United States-led global coalition fighting the hardline Sunni militant group said on Wednesday, a third of the estimated figure only three weeks ago.
In 2017, forces retook the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of ISIS.
"We've got no intention to operate in areas that are now held by the regime", Gedney said.
While task force leaders have made no similar declaration of victory, Dillon said the tempo of some offensive operations is slowing markedly as the ISIS population dwindles.
Russia's top military general is accusing USA forces in Syria of setting up a special camp to train former operatives of the Islamic State terror group.
Last week, US and coalition aircraft carried out 23 strikes in eastern Syria against ISIS vehicles, fighting positions and other targets, Gedney said.
"We say that the location of the USA base is contrary to common sense, especially now, when Syrian territory has been liberated from ISIL formations". "Our pursuit of these terrorists is as tenacious and determined as ever", he said.
Despite the coalition's successes in Syria and Iraq this year, there were no plans as yet to begin troop withdrawals, Gedney said. "Coalition and partnered forces engaged and defended the ISIS attack with direct fire before destroying enemy assault vehicles and the remaining fighters with multiple coalition airstrikes", the coalition said in a news release.It is not known how long the battle lasted. He said the U.S. military's longer-term objective would be to prevent the return of an "ISIS 2.0". "They are effectively training there", Gerasimov said, when asked about what's going on at the base.