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ISIS Militants Emerge from Tunnels to Surrender

ISIS Militants Emerge from Tunnels to Surrender

Monday, 25 March, 2019 - 05:30
A woman stands by a large banner showing the faces of fighters of the US-backed Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who were killed during battles with ISIS near the Omar oil field in the eastern Syrian Deir Ezzor province on March 23, 2019. GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP
Baghouz (Syria) - Asharq Al-Awsat
Dozens of ISIS militants emerged from tunnels to surrender to US-backed forces in eastern Syria on Sunday, a day after their so-called "caliphate" was declared defeated.

"They are ISIS militants who came out of tunnels and surrendered today," AFP quoted Kurdish spokesman Jiaker Amed as saying.

"Some others could still be hiding inside," said Amed.

An AFP reporter saw dozens of people -- mostly men -- file out of the battered militant encampment in the remote village of Baghouz near the Iraqi border to board pickup trucks.

A spokesman for the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, Jikar Azad, told Russia Today that the number of the ISIS militants who surrendered is between 60 and 90.

ISIS took large swathes of Iraq and Syria from 2014, imposing a reign of terror with public beheadings and attacks by supporters abroad - but it was eventually beaten back to Baghouz.

SDF general commander Mazloum Abdi told a victory ceremony on Saturday that ISIS was destroyed and that the group lost its ground control in its last pocket.

According to the SDF, 66,000 people left Baghouz since January, including 5,000 militants and 24,000 of their relatives.

The assault was paused multiple times as the force allowed people to evacuate from the enclave on the banks of the Euphrates.

The SDF have screened droves of people scrambling out of Baghouz in recent weeks, detaining suspected militants and trucking civilians and ISIS relatives to camps further north.

Most relatives have been crammed into the Al-Hol camp, a facility built for 20,000 people but which now shelters 72,000.

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