US-backed Kurdish forces have killed “dozens” of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS or ISIL) jihadists overnight, SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali said on Twitter. IS militants have dug in to their positions, however, and launched several suicide attacks on the Kurds and SDF.
The final push on Baghouz, a small town on the banks of the Euphrates river near the Iraqi border, began on Sunday night after civilians had been allowed to evacuate for several weeks. Many of the evacuated civilians are wives and children of the jihadists.
More than 4,000 IS militants had surrendered in the last month, Bali told Reuters. A core of their most die-hard members remained inside, determined to fight to the death.
As darkness fell on Baghouz, airstrikes pummelled the town and the Kurds and SDF peppered its buildings with gunfire. Footage by RT’s video agency Ruptly shows the moment of the air raid.
— Ruptly (@Ruptly) March 11, 2019
As Kurdish forces closed in on Baghouz, they seized weapons caches, clothing, and coins minted by the Islamic State. These spoils are the last remnants of a “caliphate” that once controlled huge swathes of Iraqi and Syrian territory.
— Mutlu Civiroglu (@mutludc) March 9, 2019
Some of the IS fighters and their families were unrepentant, even in capture. Security forces now fear that some members managed to escape Baghouz and are planning to mount a guerilla campaign elsewhere in Iraq and Syria.
— Quentin Sommerville (@sommervilletv) March 7, 2019
The impending defeat of IS comes almost five years after leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed a “worldwide caliphate” and led the militant group on a blitzkrieg campaign through the region. The long bloody fight led by the Syrian and Iraqi government forces, aided by a Russian air campaign and Iran, as well as by militias and rebel groups backed by the US strikes and Turkey, has rolled back all of the terrorist group’s territorial gains and all-but ended the “caliphate.”