DEIR EZ-ZOR, Syria — The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been surrounding ISIS in its last holdout which is being pounded on the ground and from the air.
“The ISIS terrorist organization is now sealed off in a small area. They’re surrounded in an area of 600-700 meters. ISIS is using civilian residents as a human shield. This is why we advance slowly. We don’t want civilians killed. We also have prisoners under ISIS. So far we have freed 10 of our own prisoners,” a SDF fighter told Rudaw.
On Wednesday, it is increasingly apparent that soon a declaration of the total defeat of ISIS will come
“For three days we’ve been advancing. They hit back to stop our advance. I was hit in the arm by a shrapnel. But ISIS is finished. They have no force left,” said an SDF fighter.
Thousands of civilians, mainly women and children, have fled the last battlefield. Most of those fleeing are foreign nationals.
“Here we receive the refugees. There are 45 people here right now. Sometimes it reaches 400 in a day. But in total we have registered 28,000 so far. We have Iraqis, Syrians, and others. But the people of Baghuz are few. Maybe 5 percent,” said a worker at a camp.
They trickle from different directions into SDF-controlled areas.
“We tried to get out of there many times, but they didn’t let us. They had placed mines everywhere. Our neighbors fled but they stepped on landmines and lost their legs,” said one IDP.
They’re exhausted, hungry, thirsty and terrified. Some of them are ISIS wives and families
The last battle against ISIS has taken months of planning and its end seems imminent.
Reporting by Vivyan Fatah in Syria, produced by Ayub Nuri, video editing by Masoud Mustafa