Hundreds of jihadists surrender in eastern Syria enclave

Geraldine Edwards
March 8, 2019

At its peak more than four years ago, the proto-state created by Daesh was the size of the United Kingdom and administered millions of people.

More than 10,000 people have reportedly left Baghouz in the last several weeks, many of them dramatic stories of what life was like under repressive ISIS rule. It charged that the US -affiliated rebels extort money from those who want to leave.

The US-backed Syrian Defence Forces (SDF), the Syrian military, has mounted air strikes on Tuesday against the Islamic State (IS) militants and also clashed with the jihadists in central Syria, the pro-Damascus al-Watan newspaper has reported on Tuesday.

The ISIS fighters left in the town are now surrounded by US -backed forces: the Kurdish SDF, and on the other side by the Syrian regime and Russian Federation, according to the Guardian.

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ISIS soldiers are using civilians as "human shields" in an attempt to slow down USA -backed forces that have cornered the terrorists in the small Syrian town of Baghouz.

The 38-year-old woman describes the situation in Baghouz as a "horror film".

"I haven't seen him since and don't know where he is, " Reem said, adding that she asked repeatedly for his whereabouts before she eventually made a decision to leave. She said her husband had died earlier. One woman said she saw a man hit by a missile as she was escaping from one tent to another.

Mostafa Bali of the SDF tweeted that about 3,000 people had come out of the village of Baghouz in eastern Syria on Monday through a humanitarian corridor established by the Kurdish-led group for those who want to leave or surrender.

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"We're slowing down the offensive in Baghouz due to a small number of civilians held as human shields by Daesh", said SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali on Twitter, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State. They were then whisked off to a camp for displaced people to the north, while suspected IS fighters were moved to detention facilities.

Despite the slow and bloody progress that has marked the last days of the SDF's anti-IS campaign in Baghouz, sources who spoke to Syria Direct on Tuesday appeared confident that battle would soon reach a decisive conclusion.

Under the banner of "cooperation, fraternity and clemency", the SDF said it made a decision to release the IS prisoners following negotiations with tribal leaders who had fought against IS militants. IS militants desperately fought back with snipers, vehicle bombs and other weapons trying to slow the SDF advance.

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