Burning fires blanket last ISIS stronghold in Syria

The Syrian Democratic Forces and the US-led Coalition hope this is the final battle, after months of laying siege to Baghuz.

By
March 12, 2019 11:56
1 minute read.
Flares are seen in the sky during fighting in the Islamic State's final enclave

Flares are seen in the sky during fighting in the Islamic State's final enclave, in the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria March 11, 2019. (photo credit: REUTERS/RODI SAID)

 
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Plumes of smoke and the hot glow of fires could be seen in the town of Baghuz next to the Euphrates River, as air strikes and artillery struck at the last ISIS fighters. Locals said they heard loudspeakers among the ISIS supporters urging them to fight to the end. The Syrian Democratic Forces and the US-led Coalition hope this is the final battle, after months of laying siege to Baghuz.

The Rojava Information Center, which monitors the battle against ISIS, wrote that heavy air strikes could be heard from 9:30 p.m. last night and that some ISIS members tried to escape by swimming across the Euphrates. In the past, ISIS fighters trying to escape by the river have been shot by the Syrian regime and its allies, which hold the other side.

There is no escape in Baghuz. Instead, up to 30,000 ISIS members have surrendered in the last two months, surprising the SDF and the US commanders who never thought so many of them were in such a small area. They have been transported by truckload to camps in eastern Syria, with the hard-core male supporters held in more secure areas.


The ISIS remnants are true believers. The women, dressed all in black have accosted reporters and say they love ISIS. Many of them are foreigners and some of them are Western converts. One of them boasted about the “right” to own slaves and claimed that raping female slaves was not rape because religion allows it. The men, more taciturn and quiet, also seem to be strong in their continued support of the "caliphate" that ISIS once ran.

The SDF said that it lost one fighter and four were wounded in the last day’s battle and that ISIS has been trying to use suicide vests in their desperate hour of defeat.

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