A ferocious assault continued on ISIL’s final enclave on Wednesday as thousands of fighters and their families poured out of the besieged Syrian town of Baghouz.
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said the battle was as good as over and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) faces imminent defeat.
Smoke billowed past burning buildings, lit orange by flares and raging fires, as tracer fire pounded the enclave amid the sound of constant shooting and blasts.
Ali Cheir, an SDF commander, said his force and the coalition pummelled the enclave at night to flush out the fighters. “The objective of our advance is to terrorise IS [ISIL] fighters so they surrender, and for the civilians to come out,” he said.
The enclave is the last shred of territory held by ISIL soldiers who have been driven from roughly one-third of Iraq and Syria over the past four years.
SDF official Mustafa Bali said on Twitter late on Tuesday the number of ISIL members who had surrendered has risen to 3,000. Three Yazidi women and four children held captive were rescued, he added.
“Once our forces confirm that everyone who wants to surrender has done so … the clashes will resume,” Bali said, adding the group’s defeat was very near.