3000 surrender from IS Syria bastion as end nears

13 Mars, 2019, 11:05 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • 3000 surrender from IS Syria bastion as end nears

A Reuters journalist in Baghouz saw hundreds of people surrendering to the SDF, which launched its final attack to capture Baghouz on Sunday, backed by US-led global coalition air strikes after weeks of siege.

Thousands handed themselves over Tuesday, after a deluge of fire hit the IS encampment the previous night.

SDF official Mustafa Bali said that 1,500 to 2,000 Islamic State fighters and their families surrendered en masse on Tuesday.

An Agence France-Presse correspondent near the front line heard warplanes rumbling overhead, as the sound of mortar fire and explosions rang from the IS encampment.

Argish al-Deiri, an SDF commander in Baghouz who identified himself by his nom de guerre, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that his men advanced overnight and secured some positions on the edge of a tent settlement where IS militants are making their last stand.

The defeat of Islamic State at Baghouz will mark a milestone in the campaign against the jihadist group, ending its control of populated territory in the area straddling Iraq and Syria where it suddenly expanded in 2014 and declared a caliphate.

The U.S. -backed fighters tried to push deeper into the village of Baghouz on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River.

The SDF has made "modest advances" since resuming its assault on Sunday night, killing and wounding many jihadist fighters said Adnan Afrin, an SDF commander.

Coalition warplanes Monday pounded the jihadist redoubt with 20 air strikes, destroying armoured vehicles and arms caches, SDF spokesman Mustefa Bali said.

He said US-backed forces clashed with jihadists on several fronts, killing almost 40 ISIS fighters.

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Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, said some 350 people had left the IS-held area Tuesday, including 120 IS fighters.

"Certainly in conversations this past week with my British and French counterparts, I'm very optimistic that they're going to participate", John Bolton said, in an interview with ABC's "This Week".

The UN's food agency said it is concerned about their well-being.

The camp, created to accommodate 20,000 people, is now sheltering more than 66,000, the United Nations said.

Around 113 people - two-thirds of them children under five - have died en route to the camp or shortly after arriving since December, the UN's humanitarian coordination office OCHA says.

At the height of its brutal rule, ISIS controlled a stretch of land in Syria and Iraq the size of the United Kingdom.

But beyond Baghouz, ISIS retains a presence in eastern Syria's vast Badia desert and sleeper cells in the northeast.

It has continued to claim deadly attacks in SDF-held territory in recent months, and the USA military has warned of the need to maintain a "vigilant offensive".

The minute-and-a half recording, released by IS supporters on social media and reported by the SITE Intelligence Group late on Monday calls "brothers, in Europe and in the whole world" to 'rise against the Crusaders and. take revenge for your religion'.

"If we had thousands of kilometers and now we only have some kilometers left, it is said we have lost - but God's judging standard is different", said a man named Abu Abdel Adheem.

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