UPDATED 7:35 AM PT — Thursday, March 7, 2019
The Islamic State’s days in Syria are numbered as U.S.-backed forces capture militants trying to flea Baghouz. About 400 ISIS fighters were captured Wednesday night as they tried to escape the last patch of territory in Eastern Syria owned by the terror group.
This comes after hundreds of militants recently surrendered and evacuated from the village, alongside thousands of civilians, after U.S.-backed forces began their attacks on the town.
The terrorist group now holds less than one square mile of land in Syria after having controlled more than 34,000 square miles of territory at the height of their power.
Officials believe the end of the caliphate is near once the U.S. and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) liberate the town. While the SDF says the majority of civilians left Baghouz, a small number remain trapped.
The combined forces launched what they believe is their final assault on Baghouz over the weekend. The attacks eventually had to slow down due to civilians fleeing the village, and jihadists using the remaining women and children there as human shields.
“We will start the military operations again when no more civilians arrive,” explained Aryan Qamishlo, YPJ commander for the SDF. “If there are civilians there we can’t start again — we began the campaign and we stopped it because of the civilians.”
The terrorist group also tried halting the attacks with snipers and suicide bombers.
Although the Islamic State seems to be coming to an end in Syria, officials said they have learned not to put a timetable on the battle.