Angry and defiant, ISIS families surrender in Syria


Al Watan's report said that the Syrian air force carried out "a number of air strikes targeting Daesh [ISIS] movements in the eastern Badiya, specifically on one of the dirt roads leading to the town of Al Sukhna and southeast of the town".

"For the second consecutive day our forces had succeeded in evacuating more than 3,500 between women, children and men".

"Slowing the offensive in Baghouz yesterday, we managed to evacuate about 3,000 [people]".

Some of the men were of fighting age and appeared healthy while others were wounded. "This is not the end".

The jihadists are massively outnumbered in Baghouz and the SDF say they expect a victory within days.

SDF commanders said they gave the go-ahead for their final offensive only after more than 13,000 people had evacuated Baghuz, saying they were convinced that all civilians had left the city. She spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorised to speak to the press.

The evacuations came after the USA cut back its involvement in operations around Baghouz, and continued plans to withdraw most of its troops from Syria.

The final victory over ISIS in Baghouz would be the end of the almost five-year-long campaign against the Islamic State's territorial domain in Syrian and Iraq.

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The extremist group continues to be a threat, however, with sleeper cells in scattered desert pockets along the porous border between the two countries.

Several thousand people are believed to remain in Baghouz, the last shred of the Islamic State group's "caliphate" which once straddled Syria and Iraq and ruled millions. More recently, Russian and Syrian forces have been reportedly carrying joint patrols around territory liberated from the Islamic State terror group.

The latest evacuees also include relatives of jihadists, as well as civilians who had been held by the group as "human shields", he said.

"In order not to harm them, we are advancing slowly but we assert that the battle of Baghouz will end in a short period of time", it said.

IS seized large parts of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, declaring a "caliphate" there, but have since lost all but a patch on the banks of the Euphrates River in Baghouz.

On Monday night, an AFP correspondent near the frontline saw black smoke billowing over the besieged pocket after an airstrike hit jihadist targets.

One official with the YPG, a Kurdish militia that has supported the US -backed offensive on Baghuz, told VOA numerous fighters and family members came from Central Asian countries, such as Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.