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US-backed fighters enter major IS-held town in east Syria

BEIRUT — An opposition activist and a war monitor say U.S.-backed Syrian fighters have broken through the defenses of the last area controlled by the Islamic State group in the country.

Members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have been trying to take the town of Hajin and nearby villages in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour since Sept. 10 with little luck.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Thursday that SDF fighters entered Hajin and now control parts of it.

Omar Abou Leila, who monitors the war in Deir el-Zour from Europe, said SDF fighters broke through the defenses of Hajin.

The Observatory says since the fighting began nearly three months ago, 1,616 people have been killed including 827 IS gunmen, 481 SDF fighters and 308 civilians.