The liberation of the Baghuz area in eastern Deir ez-Zour has meant local authorities in Syria and Iraq are dealing with the remnants of ISIS members and their families.
Hundreds of ISIS militants are surrendering to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), as anti-ISIS operations continue to take place in Syria’s eastern Deir ez-Zour Province.
Other militants have chosen to either remain and fight in the last enclave, Baghouz, or escape to nearby countries.
According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), dozens of militants have managed to escape capture and reach the Turkish territories, where they are being smuggled into the country.
“At least 85 families were in al-Baghouz and escaped to Turkey,” said Rami Abdul Rahman, the director of the SOHR. “How did an Uzbek fighter from the so-called Islamic State manage to pay more than $50,000 and reach Turkey along with his wife and four children?”
To prevent infiltration into Iraq, the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have set up border patrols and observation points to secure the Iraqi-Syrian border from militants fleeing Baghouz.
Furthermore, in an attempt to bring Iraqi ISIS militants to justice in Iraqi courts, the SDF and the Iraqi authorities have struck up a deal to turn over 500 Iraqi ISIS militants to Iraq. So far the Iraqi authorities have announced that two batches containing 280 militants have been delivered to them so far, with the rest set to be delivered soon.
While this was an attempt to bring Iraqi ISIS militant to justice, some media outlets have portrayed this move as an attempt by the SDF to remove foreign fighters from Syria, who may then carry out operations in Iraq. Soon after this rumour was spread, the Iraqi authorities announced that no foreign fighters have been sent by the SDF and that the militants who have been handed over to the authorities are all Iraqi who will be put in prison to await their trial and sentence.
With the evacuation of thousands of women and children from Baghouz and the transfer of Iraqi ISIS militants to Iraq, the forces can now resume their operations against the militant group in Baghouz to finally expel ISIS from the group’s last enclave in Syria.