BAGHUZ, Syria – The Islamic State terror organization’s last camp in Syrian still hosted a civilian presence on Sunday, a day after being captured by Kurdish militias in a major battle that resulted in the full territorial defeat of the extremist group.
An epa journalist at the scene said there were still women dressed in “niqab” veil enforced by IS as well as men and children around the city of Baghuz, a nondescript town on the banks of the Euphrates near the Iraqi border which had become the last outpost of the IS in Syria.
The civilians are to be evacuated in batches by the Syrian Democratic Forces, an umbrella militia led by Kurdish groups like the YPG, which managed Saturday to take full control of the area around Baghuz.
SDF announced Saturday the victorious end of its “last battle” against IS in Syria which started on Feb. 9.
That announcement came just hours after the White House announced victory against the terror organization.
Two dead bodies of IS fighters could be seen in the camp, as well as some open tunnels that were used by the terrorists as a refuge during the fight.
At the entrances of these tunnels, the terrorists planted antipersonnel land-mines that they have used to slow down SDF’s pace.
Inside Baghuz, there were also cars with Syrian and Iraqi license plates, which have been destroyed, more likely by bombing raids or explosions.
SDF and the international coalition that backs the Kurdish militias established security controls throughout the town.
During the recent weeks, thousands women and children of those who are thought to be families of IS fighters were evacuated from the town and were being held in a network of refugee camps in northeastern Syria, after surrendering to SDF.
The principal refugee camp of that network is al-Hol camp that is located in the northern province of al-Hasakah.
Meanwhile, men suspected of being IS terrorists, are being interrogated by SDF in holding camps.
Since last September, Kurdish-led forces have been waging war against the last IS strongholds in Der Ezzor province, with the help of the United States-led international coalition.
At the height of the terror organization’s power in late 2014 and early 2015, it controlled a vast swath of territory that stretched from the outskirts of Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, to central Syria, including the major cities of Mosul and Raqqa.
After seizing control on Baghuz, the so-called IS “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq came to end although the SDF warned that the group could still carry out attacks from sleeper cells in the region.