Hundred of Islamic State (ISIS) militants have surrendered to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Syria’s eastern city of Baghouz over the last few days.
As their defeat nears, ISIS militants in the group’s last enclave of Baghouz, have surrendered themselves to the advancing Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). According to the SDF, in the past couple of days over 400 militants have turned down their weapons and surrendered. While most of these militants are foot-soldiers, several mid-level leaders and foreign nationals were amongst their ranks.
In the past few weeks, hundreds of other militants have surrendered to the forces, choosing to live in rehabilitation centres and jails to being killed in the ensuing operations.
According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), dangerous and high ranking militants are being held in special prisons operated by the International Coalition, while the others are being taken to SDF-operated centres.
In addition to the hundreds of militants that have turned themselves in, thousands of women and children have also fled the city.
In a two-week evacuation period that the SDF and International Coalition enacted, thousands of families were able to leave the city and head towards the liberating forces. However, as the SDF discovered, many of the women and children evacuating were families of ISIS militants, who escaped the city to save their lives.
As a result, the issue of radicalisation amongst these women and children is a cause for concern for the authorities.
“It’s not a defeat for our fighters,” said one of ISIS brides.
Due to their continued belief in the ideology of the militant group, activists have said that these families need to be taken to special centres to rehabilitate them from the brain-washing that they received under ISIS.
The vast number of escapees from Baghouz have also created a humanitarian crisis for the region. According to SOHR, over 17,480 people escaped from the city that resembles a “human reservoir” for ISIS. Amongst those still trapped in the city are thousands of Yazidi women and children who were kidnapped from their towns in 2014.
Yazidi escapees say that those remaining are “ISIS’ last human shields”.