French General Jean-Marc Vigilant (L) and French Defence Minister Florence Parly (2nd L) talk to French soldiers engaged in the "Operation Chammal", the French military operation within "Operation Inherent Resolve", the international coalition against the Islamic State (IS) group, as they stand in front of a wheeled 155 mm gun-howitzer CAESAR system (truck equipped with an artillery system) on February 9, 2019, near Al-Qaim, a few kilometres away from the last scrap of territory held by IS in eastern Syria. The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said on February 9, 2019 it had begun the "final battle" to oust the Islamic State group from the last scrap of territory it holds in eastern Syria. / AFP / Daphné BENOIT
French Defence Minister Florence Parly (2nd L) talks to French soldiers near Al Qaim, Iraq, a few kilometres away from the last scrap of territory held by ISIS in eastern Syria. AFP

Heavy fighting as US-backed Syria force breaches final ISIS pocket