SDF slow battle for final ISIS redoubt

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Monday (March 11th) slowed an assault to retake a last scrap of land held by the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in eastern Syria after hundreds more people surrendered, AFP reported.

The Arab-Kurd alliance has paused its months-old offensive against the shrinking holdout in al-Baghouz village multiple times for thousands of dust-covered women, children and men to flee.

After that human flow slowed to a trickle, the SDF late Sunday warned remaining ISIS fighters that time was up for any surrenders and they were going in.

After a night of heavy bombardment that saw the SDF move forward and hundreds of people surrender, the front was relatively quiet on Monday afternoon.

"The clashes were heavy" overnight, SDF unit commander Aras Orkeish told AFP, with ISIS launching "suicide bombers" and "car bombs" at them.

"The operation slowed down after midnight," he said.

"Several hundred (people) gave themselves up and we paused to get them out," he added.

Special units carried out preliminary searches to weed out suspected extremists, and operations would resume at night if there were no new surrenders, Orkeish said.

By Monday morning, the SDF had seized several positions from the extremists, an SDF official said.

International coalition warplanes and mortar fire overnight pounded weapons caches, and tank fire targeted ISIS positions, he said.

It was unclear how many people remained inside the pocket on the banks of the Euphrates, SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali said late Sunday.

"We expect there to be from 1,000 to 1,500 terrorists inside," he said.

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