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Vast ISIS caliphate is now two villages in Syria
By Liz Sly Washington Post
BEIRUT – A pair of dusty villages in the Syrian desert are all that remain of the vast expanse of territory that ISIS once called its caliphate, and the complete territorial defeat of the militant group appears to be imminent, according to U.S. and Kurdish officials.
A few hundred of some of the most die-hard ISIS fighters are making their last stand in the villages of Marashida and Baghuz Fawqani on the banks of the Euphrates River, a few miles from the Iraqi border in southeastern Syria. With the Syrian Army on the other side of the river, a group that once controlled an area the size of Britain is pinned down by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in a dot of land measuring 6 square miles.
It is now only a matter of weeks or even days before the villages are overrun and ISIS' vaunted state-building enterprise in Syria and Iraq is brought to an end, military officials say.
The conclusion of the 4½-year war will add urgency to the question of when and how the United States will pull its forces out of Syria, as ordered by President Donald Trump last month. He later said they would remain to finish the fight against ISIS, and still no date has been set for their withdrawal.