Al Omar Oil Field Base, Syria: Thousands of people, including militants, have left the last area held by the Daesh group in Syria as the final defeat of the extremists’ so-called “caliphate” at the hands of US-backed forces loomed closer on Tuesday.
The spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, Mustafa Bali, tweeted that about 3,000 people came out of the village of Baghouz in eastern Syria on Monday. They left through a humanitarian corridor established by the Kurdish-led forces for those who want to leave or surrender.
The exodus came three days after the US-backed forces resumed their push on Daesh militants holed up in Baghouz on the banks of the Euphrates River, close to the Iraqi border.
In the past weeks, thousands of civilians left the speck of territory in organised evacuations following an earlier halt in fighting.
The Kurdish-led forces said their fighters were surprised by the large number of civilians, including Daesh family members, cooped up in the tiny area squeezed smaller and smaller by intermittent offensives.
The US backed forces slowed down their push on Baghouz last week to allow civilians to leave the tiny enclave.
Since February 20, more than 10,000 people have left the Daesh pocket, often in dramatic scenes of black-robed women with children in the back of trucks passing through the corridor and heading into the desert.
They were then whisked off to a camp for displaced people to the north, while suspected Daesh fighters were moved to detention facilities.
Retaking the last Daesh-held enclave in Baghouz would be a milestone in the devastating four-year campaign to end the group’s self-proclaimed caliphate that once covered a vast territory straddling both Syria and Iraq.
Bali said a large number among those who left Monday were Daesh fighters who “surrendered to our forces.”
It is unclear how many Daesh militants and civilians remain inside, but the number is now likely in the hundreds.