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Civilians still flee Baghouz

"Civilians

ISIS faced imminent defeat in its final enclave on Tuesday (March 12) as hundreds of jihadist fighters and their families surrendered and the PKK-affiliated US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said the battle was as good as over.

A Reuters journalist in Baghouz saw hundreds of people surrendering to the SDF, which launched its final attack to capture Baghouz on Sunday, backed by US-led international coalition airstrikes after weeks of siege.

The enclave is the last shred of territory held by the jihadists who have been driven from roughly one third of Iraq and Syria over the past four years.

The ferocious assault continued late on Tuesday. Live footage broadcast by the Kurdish Ronahi TV showed a series of large explosions lighting up the night sky over Baghouz, apparently from an ammunitions dump blowing up.

Smoke billowed past burning buildings, lit orange by flares and raging fires, as tracer fire poured into the enclave amid a constant sound of shooting and blasts.

SDF official Mustafa Bali said that 1,500 to 2,000 ISIS terrorists and their families surrendered en masse on Tuesday.

The coalition said in an email earlier on Tuesday there were an estimated "few hundred" foreign ISIS fighters remaining in Baghouz who had decided to fight to the end.

The Baghouz enclave had been pounded on Monday (March 11) with barrages of rockets, but the situation calmed on Tuesday morning before the intense bombardment resumed.

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