Syria: Allies to storm Isis stronghold in civilian rescue

More Than 300 ISIS Militants Refuse To Surrender To US-Backed Syrian Forces, Try To Negotiate Exit

"The most hardened of ISIS fighters still remain", the global coalition tweeted Wednesday, using an acronym for the terror group, adding that USA -backed forces "continue to receive civilians attempting to escape to safety".

A United Nations official said Tuesday she is concerned about the condition of the some 200 families trapped in the last remaining area held by IS.

"We understand that ISIL appears to be preventing some of them if not all of them from leaving".

An AFP correspondent near the frontline heard three airstrikes on Tuesday.

"The positions we are storming are the ones where we have detected activity by IS fighters", he told AFP.

They said an explosive device planted in a parked vehicle detonated in a main street in the provincial capital.

"There are many civilians inside, regrettably", said Mustafa Bali, spokesman for the SDF said.

More trucks were sent in Thursday to the tip of a corridor leading to the camp to evacuate more people, but Associated Press journalists on the ground outside Baghouz said no civilians emerged. He says they either died along the way or soon after arriving at the camp. But SDF officials said until the passengers were screened at a checkpoint, it would be impossible to know exactly how many there were, and if the evacuees included any IS fighters who had made a decision to surrender.

A wounded girl fleeing the Islamic State's group embattled holdout of Baghouz stands in a field in the eastern Syrian province of Deir Ezzor, February 13, 2019.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, also reported that some 50 trucks belonging to the USA -led coalition fighting IS arrived at the outskirts of the area.

The Iraqi security official, who spoke Thursday on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said the SDF are holding more than 20,000 Iraqis suspected of IS membership as well as their families in prisons and camps in northern Syria.

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Dino, a 26-year old fighter who has battled jihadists for years, said on Monday he was glad the battle was drawing to an end.

"The nightmare is over".

"The crossings opened by the regime and the Russian military are claimed to be safe, but the people here are not feeling any sense of safety or stability", one resident said.

But beyond Baghouz, IS still has thousands of fighters and sleeper cells scattered across several countries.

Spearheaded by the Kurdish YPG militia, the SDF has been the main US partner in Syria and has driven Islamic State out of swathes of the north and east over the last four years.

The enclave's recapture by US-backed Syrian fighters would spell the territorial defeat of IS and allow US President Donald Trump to begin withdrawing American troops from northern Syria.

The small town's population has swollen in recent months as the SDF advanced along the Euphrates towards the Iraqi border, forcing Isis fighters to fall back from village after village to Baghuz, where they are now hemmed in by four separate fighting forces on both sides of the desert border.



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