IS extremists hiding behind civilians, slowing Syria attack

OUTSIDE BAGHOUZ, Syria (AP) – United States (US)-backed Syrian fighters battling Islamic State (IS) extremists in their last foothold in Syria said they were forced to slow down their push yesterday because the extremists are using civilians as human shields.

But despite the slowing, Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), tweeted that the battle to retake Baghouz, the last territory in Syria held by the IS, was “going to be over soon”.

The US-backed forces resumed their offensive on Baghouz last Friday, after a two-week pause to allow for the evacuation of civilians.

Retaking the sliver of land would be a milestone in the devastating four-year campaign to end IS’ self-proclaimed “kingdom” that once straddled a vast territory across both Syria and Iraq.

“We’re slowing down the offensive” due to a small number of civilians held as human shields, Bali said.