Agencies (Qasioun) - A spokesman for a U.S.-backed Syrian democratic forces SDF militant group said Tuesday a military operation aimed at ousting the extremists from their last remaining area in eastern Syria will commence after separating or evacuating civilians holed up with them.
Mustafa Bali said if the remaining militants estimated to be around 300 surrendered, there would be no need for a fight.
The comments came as a Kurdish official and a Syria war monitor said that dozens of trucks arrived at the outskirts of the tiny enclave held by IS to bring out civilians remaining inside, believed to be in the hundreds.
“We are working on either separating the civilians or evacuating them and raiding the place,” Bali said.
Adnan Afrin, a commander with the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, said a number of civilians and some fighters have turned themselves in and that the trucks went to the corridor to get them. He reported some clashes on the other side of the enclave between IS militants who don’t want to surrender and SDF fighters.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, also reported that some 50 trucks belonging to the U.S.-led coalition fighting IS arrived at the outskirts of the area.
A U.N. official said Tuesday she is concerned about the condition of the some 200 families trapped in the last remaining area held by IS. In a statement issued in Geneva, Michel Bachelet, the U.N.’s human rights chief, said the extremists are actively preventing civilians, including women and children, from leaving the area near the border with Iraq.
The International Rescue Committee said Monday that more than 60 people have died in recent weeks after making their way out of the tiny area controlled by IS, most of them from exhaustion and malnutrition. They either died along the way or soon after arriving at a massive camp in northern Syria that is hosting those fleeing and evacuating the area in eastern Deir el-Zour province.