As the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and International Coalition close in on ISIS in Baghouz, the militant group's fighters are surrendering en masse.
ISIS militants holed up in the city of Baghouz have begun to surrender to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in light of the group’s imminent defeat in Syria’s eastern Deir ez-Zour Province.
According to Mustafa Bali, the spokesperson for the SDF, over 200 ISIS militants have surrendered to the SDF in the past few days. According to Bali, the militants who have surrendered to the SDF are taken to a camp in the Omar Oil Field north of Baghouz. While their fate continues to remain uncertain, the surrender of these militants is a sign that the group’s defeat throughout the region has taken a toll on its remaining fighters.
Observers estimate that less than one thousand militants remain in the city.
Since the SDF laid siege to the city of Baghouz, thousands of civilians have evacuated the last ISIS enclave in Syria.
Seeing the large number of civilians trapped in the city, the SDF halted their operations for two weeks and opened a safe corridor for escaping civilians to evacuate through.
However, those who have escaped say that ISIS continues to hold many civilians in the city to use them as human shields against the advancing forces.
Furthermore, the militant group are planting mines, and explosives around the city, and sending suicide bombers to deter the SDF from advancing on the city.
This has hindered their operations greatly, as the city of Baghouz is no larger than 1 square kilometre. However, due to the threat of endangering civilians, the advancing forces have remained cautious in their attacks on Baghouz.
Despite these hindrances, military leaders in the SDF say that the defeat of ISIS in Baghouz will take place very soon, and with the loss of the town, Syria will finally announce its defeat of ISIS throughout the country.
While many ISIS sleeper cells likely remain, the defeat of ISIS in its last enclave is a positive development in Syria’s eight-year conflict.