Dozens of trucks arrive near IS-held Baghouz to evacuate civilians

Dozens of trucks arrive near IS-held Baghouz to evacuate civilians
US-backed Syrian rebels have warned that an assault will take place on Baghouz if Islamic State group fighters fail to surrender the enclave.
1 min read
20 February, 2019
The US-backed SDF has spearheaded the siege of Baghouz [AFP]

Dozens of trucks arrived on Tuesday at the outskirts of a besieged enclave held by the Islamic State group (IS) in eastern Syria, signalling renewed efforts to evacuate hundreds of civilians trapped in the militants' last patch of territory along the Euphrates River.

A spokesman for the US-backed Syrian militia that is spearheading the fight against IS said a military operation aimed at ousting the extremists from the enclave will begin if they don't surrender.

Such an operation would take place after separating or evacuating civilians from the militants, estimated to be about 300 combatants, said Mustafa Bali, the spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces.

Just before sundown Tuesday, more than 40 trucks headed toward Baghouz, the last village where IS militants are trapped with hundreds of civilians.

There was no sign of the civilians returning by dark, and on the other edge of the IS-controlled territory, more than one air strike hit, apparently increasing the pressure on those holding out.

Gunfire echoed over the hills in the distance as soldiers from the SDF waited for the expected evacuation.