ISIS Using Human Shields to Slow Down Final Coalition Advance

ISIS Using Human Shields to Slow Down Final Coalition Advance

ISIS Using Human Shields to Slow Down Final Coalition Advance

As many as 3,500 people, including Islamic State (IS) militants, have surrendered to the USA -backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) over the past two days in eastern Syria, pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV reported Wednesday.

Hundreds of people had gathered there for screening after fleeing on Monday and early Tuesday, a correspondent said.

The surrender followed a major assault this weekend on IS-territory in Bahouz by the Syrian Democratic Forces which had suspended its attacks for two weeks in order to let civilians flee the area.

IS claimed a January 16 attack on a restaurant in downtown Manbij, in Syria's north, which killed two USA service members along with one Department of Defense civilian and a contractor. The delay was prompted by concerns over the deaths of civilians being used as human shields by Islamic State fighters.

Civilians evacuated from the Baghouz pocket have been confined to a series of displacement camps managed by the Kurdish-led Self-Administration authorities.

ISIS soldiers are using civilians as "human shields" in an attempt to slow down USA -backed forces that have cornered the terrorists in the small Syrian town of Baghouz.

Bali said among those who left was a large number of fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) group who "surrendered to our forces". Ciyager, the nom de guerre of an official with the Kurdish-led SDF, added that 200 more people are expected to evacuate the village of Baghouz later on Monday.

The Kurdish-led force pushed into Baghouz on Saturday.

On Monday night, an AFP correspondent near the frontline saw black smoke billowing over the besieged pocket after an air strike hit militant targets. Six were sent to hospital. According to the United Nations humanitarian coordination office (OHCA), over 15,000 people have arrived at the Al-Hol camp from Baghouz between February 22 and March 1.

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

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

The extremists are massively outnumbered and the SDF say they expect a victory within days.

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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