No IS surrendering despite assault

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Smoke plumes billow from the remains of an Islamic State (IS) group jihadists' camp near the village of Baghouz in the eastern Syrian province of Deir Ezzor, on March 15, 2019. - Hundreds of men, women and children trudged out of the Islamic State group's last sliver of territory on March 14 as US-backed Syrian fighters once again slowed their advance to crush the "caliphate". (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP)

BAGHOUZ, Syria — US-backed forces battled Islamic State group fighters overnight as the jihadists Saturday clung onto their crumbling bastion in eastern Syria.

“Clashes broke out again last night and have continued since,” said Adnane Afrine, spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

“There have so far been no surrenders (today) and there’s no sign they are giving up,” he told AFP.

AFP journalists at an SDF post inside Baghouz village, the last IS redoubt, heard sporadic rounds of mortar fire and US-led coalition planes overhead.

IS launched three suicide attacks Friday outside Baghouz, killing six people among those fleeing the crumbling jihadist bastion near the Iraqi border.

They were the latest casualties in Syria’s devastating civil war as it entered its ninth year with 370,000 dead.

All that remains of a once-sprawling proto-state that the IS jihadists declared in 2014 is a battered riverside camp in Baghouz.

The SDF and coalition warplanes have rained fire on the enclave since last Sunday, blitzing more than 4,000 IS fighter and family members into surrender.

Their on-off assault has been mostly fought at night, suspending major operations dayside to allow more surrenders, especially of civilians.

In total, over 61,000 people have streamed out of IS-held territory since December, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says.

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