Final IS Defeat Approaches as Thousands Leave Syria

Left: A truck outside Baghouz, Syria, on March 4, 2019, holds people evacuated from the last territory held by Islamic State militants. Right: U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces guide women and children evacuated from the territory on March 4, 2019. Hundreds of people including IS fighters evacuated their last foothold in eastern Syria hours after U.S.-backed Syrian fighters said they were forced to slow their advance because the extremists are using civilians as human shields. (AP Photos/Andrea Rosa)

OUTSIDE BAGHOUZ, Syria (AP) — A spokesman for the U.S.-backed Syrian forces fighting the Islamic State group says thousands of people, including fighters, have left the last area held by the extremists in Syria.

Mustafa Bali tweeted that about 3,000 came out of the village of Baghouz in eastern Syria on Monday through a humanitarian corridor established by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces for those who want to leave or surrender.

Bali says among those who left was a large number of IS fighters who “surrendered to our forces.”

The evacuations came as the U.S. backed forces slowed down their latest push on Baghouz, which resumed last week, to allow civilians to leave the tiny enclave. It’s unclear how many IS militants and civilians remain inside, but the number is likely in the hundreds.

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