Syrian Democratic Forces: 60 thousand escape from the last pocket of the Islamic State

A fighter from Deir al-Zor military council which fights under the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) holds the council's flag in the village of Abu Fas, Hasaka province, Syria September 9, 2017. REUTERS/Rodi Said

UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — More than 60,000 people, mostly civilians, have fled the last enclave of an Islamic state in eastern Syria since the start of the final offensive more than two months ago, Syrian forces said on Sunday.

The spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces Keno Jabriel told reporters that 29,600 people, most of them families of the organization’s militants, had surrendered since US-backed forces, led by the Kurdish People’s Protection Forces, imposed a siege on the village of Bagouz and surrounding areas on the Euphrates River.

The Syrian Democratic Forces said 5,000 militants were among them.

Jabareel said another 34,000 civilians had been evacuated from Baguoz, the last pocket of militants expelled from nearly a third of Iraq and Syria over the past four years.

Former residents of the area say many civilians who have left the Baguoz area in recent weeks are Sunni Iraqis with strong ties to clans across the border from Deir al-Zour, a Sunni stronghold.

They fled to Syria for fear of retaliatory attacks by the mainly Shiite-backed, Iranian-backed popular forces that took control of their areas after taking them away from the militant group.

Another spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces, Mustafa Bali, told Reuters an estimated hundreds of militants and their families had surrendered overnight in the remaining part of the most radical militant recently with a desperate last defense.

He said they expected the surrender of a large number of militants and their families but only a small group emerged.

A Reuters journalist in the area said the shelling of the Baguz was resumed and the air strikes on Sunday afternoon after a lull in fighting and smoke rising from the enclave.

The Syrian Democratic Forces said 1,306 “terrorists” were killed and many wounded in the campaign, which began on January 9, while 82 Syrian Democratic forces were killed and 61 injured.

Another 520 militants were captured during special operations in the last militant stronghold of a group of villages surrounded by farmland, the troops said. And the retreat of Islamic state militants and their supporters to the last pocket with their loss to the lands of the state “Caliphate” vast that they controlled.

Former residents say hundreds of civilians have been killed over months of heavy aerial bombardment by the US-led coalition after several small villages were leveled in the area along the border with Iraq.

The coalition says it is keen to avoid civilian deaths and investigate reports that it is responsible for some deaths.

The Syrian Democratic Forces have transferred tens of thousands of people who fled the territory of the Islamic state in recent months to the Hool camp in the northeast.

A senior official of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Monday that an estimated 20,000 Iraqi women and children in the camp were expected to be sent to their country within weeks or months.

The United Nations says the camp now has about 67,000 people, 90 percent of whom are women and children, and beyond that capacity. Workers in the camp say they do not have enough tents, food or medicine.

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