SDF to resume attack on Baghouz if noone else emerges by Saturday afternoon

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces will resume their assault on ISIS’ last enclave in eastern Syria if no more civilians or fighters emerge by Saturday afternoon, a spokesman for the group said on Friday.

The SDF said nobody had come out of Baghouz since Thursday. The SDF announced it was launching a final battle for the enclave last month but has slowed its attack to allow civilians to leave. Thousands of civilians and fighters had emerged earlier this week.

The capture of Baghouz will mark the end of ISIS’ territorial rule over populated areas of Iraq and Syria, and the culmination of a US-backed military campaign waged by the SDF for four years.

However, the extremists remain a menace. In Iraq they have gone to ground, staging waves of killings and kidnappings. In Syria, their comrades hold out in remote desert areas and have carried out bombings in areas controlled by the SDF.

Those who have fled Baghouz have mostly gone to Al-Hol, a displacement camp in northeast Syria whose population has swelled to 62,000 people, 90 percent of them women and children.