3,000 surrender from ISIL Syria bastion as end nears
CGTN

Around 3,000 ISIL members have surrendered from the jihadist group's last enclave in Syria, Kurdish-led forces said Tuesday, as air raids and shelling resumed after a brief lull.

A ragged tent encampment in the eastern Syrian village of Baghouz is all that remains of the large parts of Syria and neighboring Iraq since the ISIL group declared "caliphate" in 2014. 

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has been trying to crush holdout ISIL fighters for weeks, but the mass evacuation of men, women and children from the riverside hamlet has slowed down its advance.

ISIL members walk in the last besieged neighborhood in the village of Baghouz, March 10, 2019. /VCG Photo

ISIL members walk in the last besieged neighborhood in the village of Baghouz, March 10, 2019. /VCG Photo

Backed by the U.S.-led coalition, the SDF renewed its assault Sunday after warning remaining ISIL fighters their time was up.

Air strikes and shelling have since pummeled Baghouz three consecutive nights, killing scores of fighters and prompting hundreds of jihadists and their relatives to surrender.

Thousands handed themselves over Tuesday, after a deluge of fire hit the ISIL encampment the previous night.

"Number of Daesh (ISIL) members surrendered to us since yesterday evening has risen to 3,000," SDF spokesman Mustefa Bali tweeted in English on Tuesday evening.

Explosions follow shelling by the US-backed forces on the ISIL group's embattled holdout of Baghouz, March 11, 2019. /VCG Photo

Explosions follow shelling by the US-backed forces on the ISIL group's embattled holdout of Baghouz, March 11, 2019. /VCG Photo

The SDF and the US-led coalition resumed shelling and air strikes on the last ISIL bastion Tuesday evening, interrupting a brief lull in fighting that had taken hold during the day to allow for people to surrender.

Dozens of SDF fighters massed at the entrance of the village of Baghouz on Tuesday evening.

Sherif, the unit commander, said his force was preparing to storm the jihadist redoubt. "We readied ourselves today and our spirits are high," he said the fighter, who has been battling jihadists for years.

Earlier Tuesday, Ali Cheir, 27, an SDF unit commander, said his force and the coalition were pummelling the ISIL enclave at night to flush out jihadists.

Fighters with the Syrian Democratic Forces check a makeshift camp for ISIL group members and their families in the town of Baghouz, March 9, 2019. /VCG Photo

Fighters with the Syrian Democratic Forces check a makeshift camp for ISIL group members and their families in the town of Baghouz, March 9, 2019. /VCG Photo

"The objective of our advance is to terrorize ISIL fighters so they surrender, and for the civilians to come out," said the 27-year-old.

Coalition warplanes Monday pounded the jihadist redoubt with 20 air strikes, destroying armored vehicles and arms caches, SDF spokesman Mustefa Bali said.

Since December, around 60,000 people have left the last ISIL redoubt, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, around a tenth of them suspected jihadist fighters.

Source(s): AFP