The U.S.-led international coalition fighting ISIS is gearing up for what is perceived as the most important battle in eastern Syria near the Iraqi border, sources said on Wednesday.
Public statements showed that it is preparing to launch operations inside Hajin city, located in Deir Ezzor province, against a 1,000-men-strong ISIS bastion.
Hajin is considered the last true ISIS stronghold in the region.
Pentagon spokesman Sean Robertson told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Hajin battle is potentially a final "push" carried out by the U.S.-led coalition and that could bring an end to the presence of ISIS in the region.
He believed that this battle would be fierce and could last between two to three months.
Robertson stressed that the coalition, alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces, is cementing foothold gains made in preparation for the third and final push.
The SDF is currently holding thousands of ISIS detainees, but about 600 are identified as foreign fighters from a number of nations.
The SDF is not a terrorist group but a diverse organization of different ethnic backgrounds, said Robertson when defending SDF fighters from baseless accusations of terrorism.
He further stressed that SDF forces were a reliable ally in liberating northeastern Syria and driving ISIS terrorists out.
The coalition’s achievements are linked to SDF sacrifices, he added.
The U.S.-led international coalition will continue to work closely with SDF troops in order to achieve a permanent ISIS defeat.
According to the U.S. spokesman, the 77-country coalition is exerting efforts for the full liberation of Hajin. However, he pointed out that the coalition works according to conditions it faces on the ground and setting a timeline for operations can only be speculated.
In southern Syria, battles were taken a notch down in northeastern areas of Suweida Governorate amidst a continued faltering of indirect negotiations sponsored by Russia to transfer ISIS militants from the Yarmouk Basin.
After regaining control of Quneitra Governorate, the Syrian regime forced hundreds of Quneitra escapees to return to the 1974 disengagement area in the Golan Heights.
This article has been adapted from its original source.