IS fighters ‘surrender in large numbers’ in final Syria enclave
08 March, 2019, 09:32 | Author: Sue Mclaughlin
Prominent French jihadist Jean-Michel Clain was killed last month, his wife told AFP Tuesday after fleeing the last redoubt of the Islamic State group in eastern Syria.
Hundreds of people left the last area held by Daesh (ISIS) in Syria Tuesday where they gathered in a massive reception area to be searched and screened by US -backed fighters.
Some 3,000 civilians left the area around the village of Baghouz in the last couple days by way of a humanitarian corridor established by the SDF, in advance of a possible siege against remaining ISIS forces in the town - said to total no more than a few hundred, according to an SDF spokesperson. Sign-up now and enjoy one (1) week free access!
The evacuations came as the USA backed forces slowed down their latest push on Baghouz, which resumed last week, to allow civilians to leave the tiny enclave.
A coalition official told VOA Monday that the SDF was "working diligently" to get any remaining civilians out of harms way, but admitted the number of civilians still hiding with IS fighters or being held against their will, was not known.
She was speaking at a screening centre run by the Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurdish-led force that has spearheaded the military operation against the last dreg of the IS "caliphate".
Later on Monday, an SDF official said some 500 people, including fighters, have surrendered and evacuated the village of Baghouz and its surrounding areas.
On Monday night, an AFP correspondent near the front line saw black smoke billowing over the besieged pocket after an air strike.
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Among them, ten people "needed urgent medical treatment because of shrapnel or war injuries", the International Relief Committee said.
They were later taken to the Kurdish-controlled al-Hol camp in the northeastern province of Hasakah.
Robert Mardini of the International Committee for the Red Cross said in NY on Monday that the population in the camp has risen from 34,000 at the beginning of December to 45,000 now.
Around 90 people, mostly children under the age of five, have died en route to the shelter or shortly after arriving, OCHA said.
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The jihadists are massively outnumbered and the SDF say they expect a victory within days.
Despite the loss of territory, and funds, a United Nations monitoring committee estimated in July 2018 that ISIS membership in Iraq and Syria was still between 20,000 and 30,000.
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