Backed SDF Combing Through Islamic State's Last Stronghold, Victory 'Imminent'


On Tuesday the advancing Kurdish-led SDF announced its forces had driven diehard fighters out of the main encampment where they had been confined in recent days.

The Syrian Democratic Forces recently pushed the last of ISIS terrorists outside the village of Baghuz after intense fighting between the two sides.

Earlier on Wednesday, March 20, AFP correspondents saw trailer trucks carrying women and children exiting the jihadist redoubt.

The complete fall of Baghouz would mark the end of the Islamic State group's self-declared caliphate, which at its height stretched across large parts of Syria and Iraq.

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"This is not a victory announcement, but a significant progress in the fight against Daesh", SDF spokesman Mustefa Bali said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.

The frontline was quiet on Thursday, for the second-day in a row, as the SDF paused its push to allow for more surrenders.

Women and children leaving Baghouz have spoken to Reuters and other worldwide media of harsh conditions under siege in the encampment, surviving heavy aerial bombardment and with food supplies so scarce that some resorted to eating grass.

The SDF estimated at least 5,000 fighters have surrendered and this week hundreds more gave up or were captured trying to escape.

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Most of the women and children who were detained were moved to displacement camps in northeast Syria.

A clearing operation is now underway and an official announcement is expected soon. The total number of deaths on the way to it or shortly after arriving now stood at 138, the overwhelming number of them babies and infants.

Reports surfaced in February of demoralized ISIS fighters complaining that "caliph" Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was nowhere to be found when the final battle was joined.

The U.S. -led coalition also said Wednesday there has been no letup in efforts to ensure the terror group is defeated.

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But ISIS has already begun its transformation into a guerrilla organisation, and still carries out deadly hit-and-run attacks from desert or mountain hideouts.

Holding a map in his hand, Trump said that "we're leaving 200 people there, and 200 people in another place in Syria, closer to Israel".

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