Syria: 3,000 ′Islamic State′ members surrender to US-backed forces
Some 3,000 members of the “Islamic State” (IS) have left the group’s last holdout in Syria to surrender to Kurdish-led forces.
“[The] number of Daesh (IS) members [who have] surrendered to us since yesterday evening has risen to 3,000,” Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) spokesman Mustefa Bali said Tuesday.
The SDF temporarily halted airstrikes and shelling on IS-controlled Baghouz in eastern Syria on Tuesday to allow people to leave the village to hand themselves over.
SDF forces, which are backed by a US-led coalition, have been bombarding Baghouz since Sunday.
A commander told the AFP news agency that the force was preparing to storm the village. A “few hundred” IS fighters are believed to still be in the holdout, said the US-led coalition.
On Wednesday, there were reports of IS resistance in the form of mortar shells and rocket-propelled grenades being fired out of the pocket of land they still hold in Baghouz.
End of the ‘caliphate’
SDF forces have repeatedly delayed their assault on Baghouz because of the large number of civilians — mostly IS wives and children — still in the village.
Around 60,000 people have left Baghouz since December, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. It estimates that 10 percent of them could be IS fighters.
Outside of Baghouz, IS fighters continue to operate in remote areas of the country.
In 2014, the militant group took advantage of the chaos of Syria’s civil war to capture vast swathes of territory in the country and neighboring Iraq in a bid to establish a “caliphate.”