Around 2,000 people, most of them Islamic State militants and their family members, have surrendered on Tuesday to the Kurdish-led forces fighting to recapture the extremist group’s last pocket in eastern Syria.
“Approximately 2,000 people, mostly Islamic State fighters and their families, came out of the Baghuz area and surrendered to our forces,” Adnan Afrin, a commander in the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), told dpa from Baghuz.
Afrin said the Islamic State militants are from different nationalities but did not give details.
“Today I can say there was a mass surrender,” SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali said.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has put the number at 350 people, including 120 Islamic State militants.
Some of the militants were Lebanese and Moroccan, the Observatory said.
Baghuz village has been the scene of a key battle between Islamic State militants and SDF over the past few weeks.
The Observatory said more than 20,000 people, including more than 2,500 Islamic State militants, have handed themselves in to the SDF in the past two weeks.
Kino Gaberial, another SDF spokesman, expected battles to continue for two days.
“The battles are continuing in Baghuz. There is fierce confrontation from Daesh fighters, but our forces managed to confront the attackers and their suicide bombers, under the cover of shelling and the US coalition strikes,” he said.
Daesh is the Arabic acronym for Islamic State.
“The clashes are continuing and we expect it to last for the coming two days. We are waiting for the military operation to end,” Gaberial added.
Baghuz, located on the Euphrates river in eastern Syria near the border with Iraq, is the last significant territory still in the hands of Islamic State, which for years controlled swathes of both countries.
Syria’s Kurds have played a major role in fighting Islamic State in the war-torn country.