Backed forces holding 2,000 ISIS fighters in Syria


In the years since its peak, the group's annual revenue has more than halved: from up to $1.9 billion in 2014 to a maximum of $870 million in 2016, according to a recent report by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at King's College London.

More than 10,000 people have reportedly left Baghouz in the last several weeks, many of them dramatic stories of what life was like under repressive ISIS rule.

"I didn't want to leave except to treat her", the woman who identified herself as Um Fatima said.

Arab and Kurdish paramilitaries under the US -backed Syrian Democratic Forces have spent the last several days laying siege to the Islamic State's last strongholds in the Syrian city of Deir-e-Zour. The Kurdish-led forces said their fighters were surprised by the large number of civilians, including IS family members, cooped up in the tiny area squeezed smaller and smaller by intermittent offensives.

The push on IS's last pocket of territory had resumed on Friday after days of mass evacuations, but SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali said on Monday that the operation was hampered by the presence of more civilians in the besieged enclave.

Some 200 of the jihadists surrendered in Baghouz after a ferocious battle at the weekend, but around 1,000 may still be holding out, a spokesman for the US -backed Syrian force battling them said on Monday.

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The 38-year-old woman describes the situation in Baghouz as a "horror film". The numbers increased by hundreds in the past two weeks, U.S. defence officials said, as SDF members reclaimed territory from Islamic State and took suspected fighters into custody.

"I haven't seen him since and don't know where he is, " Reem said, adding that she asked repeatedly for his whereabouts before she eventually chose to leave. One woman said she saw a man hit by a missile as she was escaping from one tent to another.

People who fled the Islamic State group's last holdout of Baghouz ride in the backs of trucks in an area controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on March 4, 2019.

They were then whisked off to a camp for displaced people to the north, while suspected Daesh militants were moved to detention facilities.

The militant fighters hail from a number of countries including Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The previous night, an SDF statement said the Kurdish-led forces would continue their military campaign "to take control of the last ISIS-held pocket in Baghouz and to liberate the remaining civilians who are being used as human shields".