Qamishli, Syria - US-backed forces were locked in fierce fighting Sunday as they pressed the battle against the last shred of the Daesh group’s “caliphate” in eastern Syria.

An SDF field commander said fighting was ongoing on Sunday morning.

“There are heavy clashes at the moment. We have launched an assault and the fighters are advancing,” he told AFP.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were due to start an assault on Saturday against Daesh’s last enclave in the part of Syria where a US-led coalition has been supporting operations against the group, an SDF official told Reuters.

The United States said on January 29 that Daesh was expected to lose the final chunk of territory within a couple of weeks.

“The battle will be launched this evening and its mission will be to eliminate the last remnants of the terrorist organisation,” Mustafa Bali, the head of the SDF media office, said, describing it as the “last battle” yesterday.

He said in the last 10 days SDF fighters had handled the battle “patiently” as more than 20,000 civilians were evacuated from the besieged enclave comprising two villages near the Iraqi border.

The SDF, backed by the US-led coalition, has driven Daesh out of a swathe of territory in northern and eastern Syria.

After defeating Daesh militants from their Syrian headquarters at Raqqa in October 2017, the SDF advanced southwards into Deir Al Zor province, attacking them in territory on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River.

Daesh still has a territorial foothold in Syria west of the Euphrates in a part of the country otherwise held by the Syrian regime and its allies.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor group said coalition planes and artillery bombarded extremist positions.

“The battle is ongoing. There were heavy clashes this morning, with landmines going off,” said Rami Abdul Rahman, the head of the Britain-based Observatory.