Push on last IS enclave blunted by discovery of civilians

AL-OMAR OIL FIELD BASE, Syria (AP) — A commander with the Kurdish-led force fighting the Islamic State (IS) group said the offensive on the militants’ last enclave in eastern Syria has been blunted by the discovery of hundreds of civilians still living there.

The United States (US)-backed force known as the Syrian Democratic Forces launched the offensive to liberate the IS-held village of Baghouz a week ago, after more than 20,000 civilians were evacuated through a corridor from the area in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour.

Adnan Afrin tells The Associated Press that in the last three days, IS has brought up hundreds of civilians from underground tunnels to make the SDF and US-led coalition aware of their presence.

He said the discovery has blunted the offensive. “We do not want to cause a massacre”.

United States-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters sit atop a hill in the desert outside the village of Baghouz, Syria. – AP