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More evacuations from ISIS-held Baghouz after night of intense clashes

By Rudaw 14/3/2019
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – After a night of intense clashes between Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Islamic State militants in Baghouz, hundreds of ISIS fighters and their families exited their camp and surrendered on Thursday. 

ISIS is cornered in a tent camp on the banks of the Euphrates River near Baghouz, in Syria’s eastern Deir ez-Zor province. The SDF have broken into the camp on the western side, but progress is limited because of the presence of civilians. 

“We are slowly going forward. If it hadn’t been for their families, our campaign would have been done long ago. There isn’t much left of the campaign,” an SDF fighter told Rudaw.

The militants in Baghouz have two choices, Mustafa Bali, SDF spokesperson, told media: they either surrender unconditionally or get killed. 

The SDF mostly progress at night because that is when civilians are hiding but jihadists are on the move, the SDF fighter explained to Rudaw.

“We are slowly going forward in the night so that our comrades don’t get martyred or injured and so that nothing happens to the women and children,” he said. 

Veiled women and their young, wailing children struggled over the rough terrain, laden down with their possessions as they straggled into SDF-controlled territory. Haggard men, some injured, shuffled along and the occasional crack of gunfire or the bang of an explosion could be heard. 

“Our forces are advancing continuously on a number of fronts… the pace is very slow because of the civilians still trapped inside areas under the control of the Daesh mercenaries,” a female SDF fighter told Rudaw, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.

The SDF is keeping open a corridor for families to evacuate and militants to surrender. On Thursday, 1,300 people – families and fighters – turned themselves in, Bali tweeted. More than 60,000 people have evacuated the Baghouz area since December, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. 

Not all are giving up on their so-called caliphate that once covered swathes of Syria and Iraq. 

In the past 24 hours, ISIS attempted more than 20 suicide attacks, according to the SDF. 

“Despite the ferocity of the battles and clashes on all fronts and axes, none of our fighters got hurt or damaged,” the force stated, adding they have killed or injured 112 ISIS militants. 

The Observatory has documented 11 SDF fighters killed. 

Reporting from Viviyen Fatah


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Hama | 14/3/2019
That toddler at 0:29 broke my heart. Trash mother throwing him around like a doll and idiot cameraman recording it instead of running over and helping. These are the civilians inside war zones. People like that toddler. That's why you don't rush. That's why you don't bomb indiscriminately. Tens of thousands of civilians just like that toddler at 0:29 were killed by PKK shelling and airstrikes in Raqqa, Manbij and to large extent even Baghouz. Many children just like that toddler have had their bodies shred to pieces with no hospital to even treat them if they survived. That child's life and comfort is worth more than anything. It's important that these civilians are all treated humanely regardless of they treated others. Otherwise we're just animals too. Handing over prisoners to Iraq where there is no independent court system and where even women are handed death sentences, is not in line with humanitarian Kurdish principles.
kurt basar | 15/3/2019
@Hama, I wonder why don't you talk about those E-zidies? who are enslaved, raped, killed & their girls sold naked at the savage lizard eaters bazaars, by the same people you are defending. You should blame all of those killings to the your Muslim/ISIL brothers not to the Kurd's, who are victims of the your Salafi brothers, and please don't insult the Animals, who are more superior than the humans with their contact & behavior.
Ron | 15/3/2019
@ Hama You think the forces who took Raqqa back from ISIS were in an easy fight? Where they had the luxury to choose not to bomb ISIS positions? Without the bombardments, the house to house fight in Raqqa would have cost thousands more lives of those who put their lives on the line for our freedom. It was not the choice of the PKK or SDF to put children in these situations. The beasts of ISIS came to Syria to rape and murder by the thousands and they choose to put their children in this situation. They are responsible. If they wanted to save their children, they should have stayed at home, or at least surrender to keep their children safe.
Renas | 15/3/2019
@Hama, it breaks my heart that SDF/YPG don’t execute them all, including the small bomber that broke your heart.
Hamid Sayadi | 15/3/2019
Hegemony by Islam bearing the fruits of Tragedy, In this corner of the world, Just like German atrocities in 1948 Jewish genocides, And altranationalizm of Turkish State for the genocide of Arminians in 1915. We the Kurds stuck with 56 nations Muslmans came to have their dreams come true on Kurdish & Arab land! Now suppose to be gentle with them. We do our best Because we are repressed people our self. Geneva convention will in near feuter tell the truth about the Peshmarga.
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