Recent gains by Kurdish-led forces in Syria have shrunk ISIS’ "caliphate" to less than one percent of its original size, the US-led coalition said on Thursday.
Major General Christopher Ghika, the coalition’s deputy commander, described the size of the last patch of land held by the extremist group as "now less than one percent of the original caliphate".
Detaining foreign ISIS fighters on a daily basis
US-backed forces in Syria said Wednesday they were detaining foreign ISIS fighters on a “daily basis”, days after confirming the capture of German extremist Martin Lemke.
AFP reported Lemke’s capture last week after speaking to two of his wives who said they had fled together from the extremist group’s final pocket of territory in eastern Syria.
ISIS is clinging to a tiny sliver of its once sprawling “caliphate” and many residents are fleeing and turning themselves in ahead of a final offensive.
A spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, Mustafa Bali, said ISIS fighters were hiding among the fleeing civilians.
“On a daily basis, we are arresting foreign ISIS fighters,” he told AFP, declining to provide further details on Lemke’s arrest.
The SDF has captured at least 50 foreign ISIS fighters over the past three weeks, Kurdish foreign affairs official Abdel Karim Omar told AFP on Wednesday.
The SDF announced Lemke’s capture in a statement posted on their website on Monday.
It said two other extremists had also been captured, identifying them as Egyptian Hussein Fardid and Saudi Salem al-Shamrani.
The three were detained following “two special operations” on January 25 and February 1, it added.
Investigations published in German newspapers portray Lemke, who is believed to be 28, as an influential figure among foreign fighters in Syria.