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Hundreds of IS fighters surrender in N Syria

Published: March 07, 2019 21:22:16


BAGHOUZ: Civilians waiting at a screening area held by the US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in Baghouz area on Wednesday — AFP

Hundreds of Islamic State fighters surrendered on Wednesday and hundreds more of their comrades were caught trying to escape the jihadist group's last, tiny scrap of land in eastern Syria, said a commander in the militia besieging it, reports Reuters.

Islamic State fighters holed up in the enclave at Baghouz near the Iraqi border have been giving up in large numbers this week after a ferocious assault on their enclave on Saturday and Sunday, but many remain inside, said the commander.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia has slowed its attack to allow thousands of civilians to leave Baghouz, continuing an exodus that began when it announced it was launching a final battle for the enclave last month.

Far more people were still in Baghouz than the SDF had expected, it said, and it wanted them all to leave before it either stormed the area or otherwise forced Islamic State's surrender there.

"There are a large number of fighters who are inside and do not want to surrender," said the senior SDF commander.

The fall of Baghouz would mark the end of the rule of Islamic State's self-proclaimed "caliphate" over populated territory, although some fighters are still hiding out in remote desert or have gone underground to wage a guerrilla insurgency.

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