A Syrian Democratic Forces fighter takes aim with his Kalashnikov assault rifle after seeing a man walking towards his position in the town of Baghouz, in the eastern Syrian province of Deir Ezzor, on March 9. Photo: AFP

US-backed forces on Sunday resumed their assault on ISIS holdouts in their eastern Syrian redoubt.

The jihadists once controlled a huge swath of Syria and Iraq, but they have since lost all that territory except for a riverside stronghold in the village of Baghouz.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has slowed down its months-long campaign against ISIS in recent weeks to allow civilians and surrendering jihadists to leave their shrinking enclave.

But the Kurdish-led alliance, which is backed by a US-led coalition’s air strikes, on Sunday said a deadline for surrenders had passed and the assault would resume.

“We have not seen any movement of civilians inside so the Syrian Democratic Forces have resumed their military operations against the group,” SDF spokesman Adnan Afrin said.

The head of the SDF press office, Mustefa Bali, said air strikes against ISIS positions had resumed, and that fighters on both sides were trading fire.

“The timeline [we gave] ISIS to surrender themselves is over,” he said earlier on Twitter.

“Our forces have received orders for military action to finish off what is left of the terrorists in Baghouz,” a village near the Iraqi border, he said.

Since December, nearly 59,000 people have left the last ISIS redoubt, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, around a tenth of them suspected jihadists.

– with reporting by Agence France-Presse

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