US-backed SDF says it freed 24 fighters held by Islamic State group

Reuters , Thursday 28 Feb 2019

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia said on Thursday it had freed 24 of its fighters from Islamic State militants in the jihadists’ last enclave near the Iraqi border.

The SDF provided no details about how its fighters were recovered, and it was not immediately clear if others remained under Islamic State group control in the enclave at Baghouz.

The force, the main partner of the US-led coalition against the jihadist group in Syria, has been trying to evacuate thousands of civilians in Baghouz before storming it or forcing the surrender of the remaining jihadists, who the SDF has said are mostly foreigners.

Part of Baghouz, a tiny cluster of hamlets and farmland on the banks of the Euphrates River, is all that remains of Islamic State group’s territorial foothold that once straddled the two countries.

Thousands of people of many nationalities have streamed out of the final shred of land in recent weeks, an exodus of both its supporters and victims, surpassing initial estimates and delaying an end to the battle.

The varied backgrounds of those who have came out attests to the way Islamic State group drew in people from across the world, and swept up Syrians and Iraqis in its rule.

The group has been adapting for some time and has mounted a spate of guerrilla-style attacks in Syria of late.

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