Published: Fri, March 08, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

Backed forces holding 2,000 ISIS fighters in Syria

Backed forces holding 2,000 ISIS fighters in Syria

Despite the slow and bloody progress that has marked the last days of the SDF's anti-IS campaign in Baghouz, sources who spoke to Syria Direct on Tuesday appeared confident that battle would soon reach a decisive conclusion. The delay was prompted by concerns over the deaths of civilians being used as human shields by Islamic State fighters.

Maquere described the makeshift camp where the last people left in the IS held portion of Baghouz have been hunkered down.

"We're slowing down the offensive in Baghouz due to a small number of civilians held as human shields by Daesh", said SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali on Twitter, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State. With the militants besieged on three sides by the SDF and civilians continuing to leave the pocket, a military defeat of the IS fighters seemed inevitable, though it wasn't clear how many fighters remained in Baghouz.

The evacuations came as the US backed forces slowed down their latest push on Baghouz, which resumed last week, to allow civilians to leave the tiny enclave.

Two brothers who were among France's best-known jihadists have been killed in strikes on Islamic State's last-remaining pocket in Syria.

The Malian-born jihadist claimed his attack, which came a day after two brothers killed 12 people at the offices of satirical publication Charlie Hebdo, in the name of IS. Six were sent to hospital.

The new arrivals have pushed the camp's population to over 56,000, exacerbating already dire conditions at the crammed facility, it said.

Civilians evacuated from Baghouz wait at a screening area held by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces
ISIS Uses ‘Human Shields’ To Stall US-Backed-Forces Final Push

After months under heavy bombardment and sometimes with very little to eat, many of those emerging from Baghouz are in poor physical and psychological health.

Around 90 people, mostly children under the age of five, have died en route to the shelter or shortly after arriving, OCHA said.

Syria's Kurds hold hundreds of foreign jihadists and IS sympathisers, whose governments have been reluctant to take them back.

A United States judge on Monday rejected a request for expedited treatment of the case of an Alabama woman who joined ISIS in Syria but has asked to return home.

The Kurdish-led SDF with the backing of the USA -led coalition has launched a crushing offensive to eliminate the IS from the eastern Euphrates River region in eastern Syria since September previous year.

In the years since its peak, the group's annual revenue has more than halved: from up to $1.9 billion in 2014 to a maximum of $870 million in 2016, according to a recent report by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at King's College London.

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