Daesh combatants were among 400 people to leave terror group's last pocket in the Baghouz area as US-backed SDF militants close in, war monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says.

Plumes of smoke rise in Baghouz, Deir Ezzor province, Syria, March 3, 2019.
Plumes of smoke rise in Baghouz, Deir Ezzor province, Syria, March 3, 2019. (Reuters)

Some 150 Daesh militants have surrendered to US-backed militant group SDF in Baghouz, the terror group's last enclave in eastern Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) war monitoring group said on Monday. 

They were among 400 people to leave the area on Monday after the SDF staged an assault in recent days, the UK-based Observatory said.

Also on Monday, SDF claimed it slowed its offensive because a small number of civilians remain there, though fierce fighting continues.

SDF — a group which is dominated by the YPG/PKK terror organisation — had claimed to pause its attack for weeks to allow thousands of people to flee the area, including Daesh supporters, fighters, children, local people and some of the group's captives.

It said on Friday that only Daesh remained, but now says some more civilians are left.

Washington considers YPG a strong ally in the fight against Daesh, Turkey classes YPG, the Syrian wing of the PKK, as a terrorist organisation. 

The PKK has waged a three-decade armed campaign against the Turkish state, leading to tens of thousands of deaths and both Turkey and the US have designated the PKK as a terrorist organisation. 

Prisoners face investigation 

SOHR said the militants will be taken to investigation centres run by YPG-spearheaded SDF forces and US-led coalition forces.

Their families will be transferred to Al Hawl refugee camp near the city of Hasakah, it said.

With the new group, the total number of people who left the Daesh enclave is now 53,380 since December, according to SOHR.

Daesh's last bastion in Syria

Daesh faces defeat in the last shred of its main territory in Syria and Iraq where it announced a "caliphate" in 2014, suffering years of steady retreats.

Despite the setbacks, the group remains a deadly threat, developing alternatives to its caliphate ranging from rural insurgency to urban bombings by affiliates in the region and beyond, many governments say.

Source: Reuters