Trucks evacuate civilians from last IS pocket in Syria: SDF official

Trucks evacuate civilians from last IS pocket in Syria: SDF official

Trucks evacuate civilians from last IS pocket in Syria: SDF official

Daesh had seized swathes of Syria and Iraq in 2014 and declared a cross-border caliphate.

The U.S. -led coalition declined to comment on the evacuation.

On Tuesday, February 19, the SDF said several ISIS fighters and dozens of civilians handed themselves over to the Kurdish-led force.

Human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said they were apparently being actively prevented from leaving by IS and continued to be subjected to intense bombardment by SDF and US-led coalition forces.

"Many of them are apparently being actively prevented from leaving by ISIL", the United Nations said in a statement, using another acronym for IS.

An AFP correspondent near the frontline heard three airstrikes on Tuesday.

"Large numbers of civilians, including hundreds of thousands of displaced people, in Idlib and northern Aleppo are living an intolerable existence", said Bachelet, referring to those who were displaced from other parts of the country to Idlib over the past years.

"The positions we are storming are the ones where we have detected activity by IS fighters", he told AFP. "We did not know our enemy very well but today we know them intimately". "This could happen soon", SDF spokesman Mustefa Bali said, declining to provide more details on the operation.

More trucks were sent in Thursday to the tip of a corridor leading to the camp to evacuate more people, but Associated Press journalists on the ground outside Baghouz said no civilians emerged.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said the SDF appeared to have reached a deal with the jihadists. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the talks, which he described as taking place indirectly.

He said the militants have two options: either to surrender or "the battle will continue to the end".

"The nightmare is over".

The Free Burma Rangers volunteer group said 40 people had exited the enclave on Tuesday, including a French woman with two infants.

The SDF says ISIS fighters have been pushed back to a tiny tent camp on the banks of the Euphrates River. President Donald Trump made clear he thinks European countries should agree to this.

The withdrawal plan is expected to be accelerated once the last IS redoubt falls.

Many have ended up in camps like al-Hol in northeastern Syria, unsure of what will become of them.

The stalling tactics are likely to further delay a declaration of the end of Daesh's self-proclaimed "caliphate" that the USA -backed Syrian Democratic Forces were hoping to make last week.

"There are still civilians inside" the Baghouz pocket, he added.

Twin explosions in the bustling center of rebel-held Idlib city on Monday killed at least 15 people and injured scores, medics and witnesses said. A wheelchair stood empty in a crowded truck bed, where a dozen children mixed with their mothers.

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