SDF clear area around last IS Syria pocket

SDF clear area around last IS Syria pocket
Smoke rises from the last besieged neighbourhood in the village of Baghouz, where ISIS have been reduced to their last sliver of land.
BAGHOUZ, Mar 20 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 3/20/2019 12:32:59 PM IST

Fighters in Syria are scouring the last few hundred square yards of ISIS territory for landmines, hiding jihadists and secret tunnels after pushing the terror group into their last sliver of land.  

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by the U.S., are clearing areas they captured yesterday as they reduced the ISIS ‘caliphate’ to a tiny patch of bombed-out scrapyard in eastern Syria. 

An official with the fighters said there was calm and no clashes today as Syrian forces were seen singing, dancing and giving V-for-victory signs to celebrate ‘victory’ in Baghouz. 

In one video released by Syrian forces a group of fighters are seen jigging in rhythm in the desert as they marked the ‘end of the ISIS caliphate’. 

The extremists had retreated into a tiny parcel of land, with some reportedly having used their own children as human shields, after they were forced out of the camp where they had been holding out. 

The last diehard ISIS fighters continued clashing with the SDF on Tuesday night but the terror group is on the brink of defeat after holding a third of Syria and Iraq in 2014.   

Pictures yesterday showed the burning remains of cars along the banks of the Euphrates river where ISIS fanatics have been desperately digging in over the last few months. 

Hundreds of militants had surrendered on Monday, an SDF spokesman said, signalling the terror group’s collapse after months of stiff resistance.

The fighters also revealed they had captured a group of alleged terrorists suspected of being behind a suicide attack in northern Syria that left four Americans dead earlier this year.   

The taking of the ISIS camp was a major advance but not the final defeat of the group in Baghouz, but fighters from Syrian forces were celebrating nonetheless.  

‘I’m happy it’s over. Now I know my people are safe,’ said a fighter who identified himself as Walid Raqqawi who fought in the camp Monday night. 

He said he is returning to his hometown of Raqqa to rest. Comrades from his unit sang and danced in celebration at an outpost in Baghouz, all saying they were looking forward to going home. 

Hardened militant fighters holed up in the encampment have been mounting a last-stand defence of the enclave, all that is left of ISIS’s self-proclaimed ‘caliphate’ that once spanned a third of both Syria and Iraq. 

The militants have been putting up a desperate fight, their notorious propaganda machine working even on the brink of collapse. 

On Monday, ISIS issued a video showing its militants furiously defending the encampment, a junkyard of wrecked cards, motorcycles and tents.

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