BAGHOUZ, Syria — ISIS fighters are standing simply 150 ft away and we’re crouched on a rooftop in a constructing that hardly stands, obliterated by the offensive underway. The roof has caved in, identical to each different constructing inside miles. Mortar, artillery and machine gun hearth have focused them.
That is the ultimate push towards the fear group — and it’s a devastating scene.
We will see a couple of terrorists scavenging, milling round carefully. We will hear them. Generally they shout towards us – they’re driving motorbikes, digging for roots, and carrying AK47s and RPGs. Many of the fighters, nonetheless, are out of sight.
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Baghouz is the final ISIS-held village left, the final remnants of what was as soon as a territory the dimensions of Indiana, with eight million individuals beneath ISIS’ rule. Now, they’re right down to a sliver of land not more than half a sq. mile. We’re on the closest level.
What’s superb is though there are just a few left, they don’t appear scared. The remaining ones are true believers, able to die, and are promised heaven in return. They as soon as dominated hundreds of thousands of individuals, now they’re dwelling in hovels.
President Trump informed the navy to take off the gloves towards this brutal ideology. It’s because of that we’re at this level. Troopers right here inform us always to thank the president. On Tuesday, protection officers mentioned that ISIS terrorists tied to a January suicide bombing in Syria that killed 4 People had been captured by U.S.-backed forces.
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Round us, gun battles have raged for hours. Our ears are ringing as highly effective U.S. airstrikes shake the bottom. The ladies, at the least, know they’re protected, realizing the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces received’t shoot them.
Generally, the fighters shout for meals. If the bullets don’t kill them, hunger will. The irony is their fighters typically seem wholesome, well-fed and well-stocked. They’ve ready for this last battle for years. They offer what’s wanted to the lads whereas ignoring the plight of the ladies.
We transfer from constructing to constructing so snipers can’t see us. Generally, bullets fly previous us.
All that is still is a tented camp on the fringe of the city bordering the Euphrates River, as soon as the ISIS heartland the place assist was robust. On the opposite facet of the river, only a mile away, Assad forces are in place ready, a reminder of the complexities of the battle.
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We’re informed most ISIS fighters, wives and kids are underground beneath the tents. They keep hidden, dwelling a subterranean life in caves and tunnels. Due to that, there isn’t any approach to know what number of stay. It’s believed a number of the tunnels are miles lengthy — and so they should still have provide traces. However this perception is very disputed.
No one is aware of what number of ISIS fighters are left. We had been right here six weeks in the past and again then, we had been informed an estimated 1,500 ISIS fighters remained. Since then, 30,000 have come out, surrendering to U.S.-backed Kurdish forces. The concern is there are lots of extra.
Members of U.S. Particular Forces monitor them within the desert as they give up.
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The variety of individuals left has shocked everybody. It now appears as if each survivor from previous battles, each ISIS member of the family, moved down right here months in the past and has been dwelling underground since. U.S. drones and satellites overhead weren’t even conscious they had been there.
The native forces now admit they nonetheless don’t know what number of stay. They’ve stopped attempting to guess.
Some experiences counsel ISIS fighters at the moment are being ordered to give up, at the least those who’re injured. They know they’ll be handled properly and put into camps and might reside to battle one other day. Camps are bursting with tens of hundreds of individuals.
It’s what to do with them that no person can determine.
* For extra from Benjamin Corridor, watch Fox Information Channel.