US-backed Syrian forces launch attack on final Isis stronghold

US-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian forces have launched a final push to defeat the Islamic State group in the last tiny pocket the extremists hold in eastern Syria.

The Syrian Democratic Forces spokesman Mustafa Bali tweeted the offensive began on Saturday after more than 20,000 civilians were evacuated from the Isis-held area in the eastern province of Deir ez-Zor. An SDF statement said the offensive was focused on the village of Baghuz.

The SDF, backed by US air power, has driven Isis from large swaths of territory it once controlled in northern and eastern Syria, confining the extremists to a small pocket of land near the border with Iraq.