Islamic State group jihadists defending their last scrap of territory in Syria have no choice but to surrender, a Kurdish-led force said on Monday, ahead of a victory declaration expected within days. The warning by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) came as European nations reacted coolly to a US call to repatriate their nationals from Syria, which Germany said would be “extremely difficult”.
From an SDF position hundreds of metres (yards) away, an AFP reporter spotted people moving between white tents inside the last jihadist redoubt, including a woman clad in black and masked men. An SDF fighter pointed towards a water tanker parked in the arid plain that separated his force from jihadists.
“Do you see people moving behind the water truck. It s not clear if they are fighters or civilians,” he said. The SDF are moving cautiously on the jihadist holdout, saying IS is increasingly using civilians as “human shields”. Spokesman Mustefa Bali said the alliance was “still working on trying to get civilians out”. “The clashes are sporadic and very limited,” Bali told AFP on Monday. “There have been no significant changes on the ground.”
Thousands of people have streamed out of IS turf in recent weeks, but no civilians have made it out in the last three days.
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23 May, 2019