Battle of Baghuz Fawqani

Battle of Baghuz Fawqani
Part of the Deir ez-Zor campaign (2017–19), the Syrian Kurdish–Islamist conflict (2013–present), and the American-led intervention in the Syrian Civil War
Battle of Baghuz (2019).svg
Map of the military movements during the final segment of the battle, after 12 February 2019. Syrian government territory is situated west and south of the riverbend.
Date9 February 2019 (2019-02-09) – 23 March 2019 (2019-03-23)
(1 month and 2 weeks)
34°27′37″N 40°57′13″E / 34°27′37″N 40°57′13″E / 34.46028; 40.95361

Decisive SDF and allied victory

  • The SDF launches series of assaults in accordance with civilian evacuations
  • ISIL's "tent city", the heart of the ISIL enclave, is captured by the SDF on 19 March[3]
  • ISIL territory is almost completely eradicated from Syria on 23 March, beginning an insurgency phase

Syrian Democratic Forces
International Freedom Battalion

 Iraq (minor cross-border support)[1]

 Syria (minor defensive skirmishes)[2]

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

Commanders and leaders
Mazlum Kobane
(SDF commander in chief)
Jiya Furat[4]
(SDF commander for Battle of Baghuz)
Adnan Afrin[5]
(SDF commander and spokesman)
Ahmad Abu Khawla[6]
(Deir ez-Zor Military Council commander)
Mustafa Manbij[7][8]
(Manbij Revolutionaries Battalion commander)
Abu Ali Bard[9][10]
(Army of Revolutionaries Commander)
LTG Paul LaCamera
(Commander of CJTF–OIR)
France Colonel Francois-Regis Legrier[11]
(Commander of Task Force Wagram)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi[12]
(Leader of ISIL)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Khaled Al-Ansari [13]
(Senior ISIL commander)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Ahmed Jamil al-Sayed [14]
(ISIL commander)
Units involved

Syrian Democratic Forces

International Freedom Battalion

United States United States Armed Forces

France French Armed Forces

United Kingdom British Armed Forces

Iraq Iraqi security forces[21]

Syria Syrian Arab Army

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Military of ISIL

15,000-17,000 fighters [22][23]
Coalition: air support, artillery, and special operations personal (SOF)

4,000–5,000+ fighters[30][3]
Casualties and losses
65 killed (per SOHR)[31]259 killed,[32] 4,050 captured (per SOHR)[33][34][35]
1,300 killed,[36][37][38][39] 5,000+ captured (per SDF)[3][40]
216+ civilians killed by airstrikes (SOHR)[41][42]
Italian photographer wounded[43]
Al-Baghuz Fawqani is located in Syria
Al-Baghuz Fawqani
Al-Baghuz Fawqani
Location of Al-Baghuz Fawqani along the Euphrates River

The Battle of Baghuz Fawqani was an offensive by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), assisted by American-led coalition airstrikes, artillery, and special forces personnel,[44] that began on 9 February 2019 as part of the Deir ez-Zor campaign of the Syrian Civil War. The battle, composed of a series of ground assaults, took place in and around the Syrian town of Al-Baghuz Fawqani in the Middle Euphrates River Valley, near the Iraq–Syria border, and was regarded as the territorial last stand of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in eastern Syria.[45][46]

After corralling Islamic State forces into a densely populated cluster of hamlets and a tent city along the riverside within the first week, the SDF realised that a greater-than-anticipated number of civilians, most of whom were relatives of the mostly foreign ISIL fighters, were still in the enclave. With Coalition oversight, the SDF took an incremental approach to the battle, launching fierce assaults then pausing to allow surrendering fighters, hostages, and families to evacuate in order to minimize civilian casualties. The "trickle-out" strategy, coupled with stiff, fanatical resistance by veteran Islamic State jihadists within a small but dense area, prolonged the battle into a protracted siege.[47] The SDF officially declared final victory over the Islamic State in Baghuz Fawqani on 23 March, marking the end of ISIL-controlled territories in Syria.[48]


French and American soldiers in support of the CJTF-OIR in Iraq, March 2019. Coalition forces supported SDF advances with airstrikes and cross-border artillery from Iraq

Since September 2017, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) had been waging a campaign to wrest territorial control from the Islamic State terror group in eastern Syria. The SDF's advances were supported by American, British, and French forces from the CJTF–OIR Coalition via close air support, French and American artillery, and American special forces assistance and oversight. The SDF launched its third and final phase of their campaign in September 2018, gradually capturing the remaining ISIL pocket of territory straddling the Euphrates river near the Iraq-Syria border.[49] By 1 February 2019, ISIL was reduced to four square kilometers of territory, boxed in against the river with the SDF advancing from the northwest, Syrian government forces blocking river crossings, and Iraqi forces deployed to prevent cross-border infiltrations. The massive exodus of civilians complicated advances, with the SDF pausing its advance for almost 10 days prior to the battle.[50] Within the 10 days preceding the battle, over 20,000 civilians fled the enclave.[51][52] The SDF stated that a number of foreign hostages, including missing British journalist John Cantlie and the kidnapped Italian Jesuit priest Father Paolo Dall'Oglio, were possibly being held in the enclave.[53]

On 9 February 2019, France's Defense minister Florence Parly visited Firebase Saham, a joint French-U.S. artillery fire support base near Al-Qa'im, Iraq that supported the SDF's anti-ISIL campaign. Meeting with French forces there, Parly told them not to be distracted and that France "is determined to complete this fight against those who have struck her," referring to ISIL terror attacks in France in recent years.[54]