‘The ISIS threat will remain,’ John Bolton says

Abu Abdel Adheem a member of the Islamic State is shown after surrendering to the SDF

"We will enter with full force and we will be at the forefront" of the advance, said the fighter who has been battling jihadists for years. "(The caliphate) still has leaders, still has fighters, it still has facilitators, it still has resources, so our continued military pressure is necessary to continue to go after that network".

An SDF fighter in Baghouz said IS was using "many suicide bombers" in its counterattack, which it launched after daybreak under cover of a sandstorm.

"Combined with the SDF ground movement against the final enclave, progress is being made and their capabilities are being severely destroyed".

In parts of Baghouz already under SDF control, dirt roads were littered with the scorched remains of cars, trucks and motorcycles.

He added that Islamic State fighters are "scattered still around Syria and Iraq, and that ISIS itself is growing in other parts of the world".

Trump later reversed his original position of a full pullback of forces from Syria, where the USA now has between two and three thousand troops.

Islamic State's defences include extensive tunnels. US government experts strongly believe Baghdadi is alive and possibly hiding in Iraq.

Bolton assured anchor Martha Raddatz that there was no contradiction between Trump's declaration that the ISIS caliphate has been defeated and Centcom Commander Gen. Joseph Votel's testimony that ISIS is still a threat to be reckoned with.

Some die-hard IS fighters who stayed to defend the remnants of their "caliphate" struck back with a wave of suicide bombings, according to Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

Live footage broadcast by the Kurdish Ronahi TV overnight showed a series of large explosions lighting up the night sky over Baghouz.

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The final push was initially put on hold by the US-led coalition and the SDF to save civilians and hostages that were being held captive by the remaining Islamic State fighters.

Supported by air strikes by the US-led coalition, the SDF resumed shelling on Sunday.

The SDF had given the extremists an ultimatum on Friday to surrender or prepare for battle.

Thousands handed themselves over on Tuesday, after a Kurds made rapid advance on the encampment the previous night. Three women and four children belonging to the Yazidi sect, a minority group who were kidnapped and enslaved by IS in 2014, were also freed, he said.

However the United States does not believe any senior Islamic State leaders are in Baghouz, assessing they have gone elsewhere as part of the group's shift toward guerrilla tactics, a U.S. defense official has said.

The bulk of the people evacuated from the diminishing ISIS territory have been transported to a camp for internally displaced people in al-Hol, in northeastern Syria, where the United Nations says conditions are "extremely dire".

The war has escalated in recent weeks with the Assad government stepping up its shelling of opposition held towns in the northwestern region of Idlib, where Islamist militant group Tahrir al-Sham holds sway.

Russian warplanes struck for the first time in months the center of Idlib city, including a hospital and a prison on the outskirts from which dozens of inmates fled, residents said.

It said they were reaching the camp in a worse state than before.

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