US-led coalition says air strike kills five ISIS fighters in Syria

It was the first attack by coalition warplanes since ISIS was driven from its last hold in Syria four months ago

Fires burn inside the last ISIS redbout in Baghouz, Syria, 2 March 2019
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A US-led coalition air strike killed five ISIS militants in eastern Syria on Monday, in the first such raid since the collapse of the terrorist group's "caliphate".

"Coalition forces conducted a strike against a Daesh cell near Busayrah," a town in Deir Ezzor province, coalition spokesman James Rawlinson said.

"This operation eliminated five terrorists who played a key role in facilitating attacks across the region against security forces and innocent civilians."

The five ISIS fighters were all Syrian, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor reported from Britain.

It was the first attack by coalition warplanes since ISIS was driven out of its last holdout in Syria four months ago, the group said.

A US-backed, Kurdish-led force announced it had expelled the extremists from their last patch of territory in eastern Syria, the town of Baghouz, on March 23.

That came after a months-long campaign backed by coalition air strikes.

The Syrian Democratic Forces' victory spelt the end of the ISIS reign declared in 2014 after the militants seized large parts of Syria and neighbouring Iraq.

But despite losing their territory, ISIS fighters continue to launch regular attacks across war-torn Syria.

They have claimed operations in SDF-held areas, including assassinations and setting fire to vital wheat crops.

In Syria's vast desert, they have repeatedly hit regime forces with deadly attacks and ambushes.

They also maintain a presence in the north-western region of Idlib, which is dominated by an Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group.

The US-led coalition has said it is backing the SDF in north-eastern Syria against thousands of remaining ISIS loyalists.

"The coalition will continue to enable partner forces in their pursuit of enduring defeat of Daesh," Mr Rawlinson said.

"With coalition support, the SDF has been conducting back clearance operations, with over 200 Daesh members detained" and 1,360 kilograms of unexploded ordnance recovered.

The war in Syria has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.