US-backed Syrian forces' advances against Islamic State militants in their last pocket in eastern Syria were slowed on Monday due to snipers and mines in the area, a Kurdish commander said.
‘The advances are slow as there is a number of snipers and a large number of mines planted in the area where the battles are taking place,’ Adnan Afrin, a commander in the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), told dpa.
Afrin said that, despite these obstacles, SDF fighters, under cover of US-led coalition planes, had managed to take control of ‘a small area’ in Baghuz village, the scene of a key battle between Islamic State and SDF over the past few weeks.
He added that a number of Islamic State militants were killed and wounded in the ongoing battles, without giving a specific figure.
SDF said Sunday that they had resumed their campaign to expel Islamic State from the village of Baghuz after briefly suspending it to evacuate civilians still trapped there.
Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said that, despite the ongoing battles in Baghuz, around 120 Islamic State fighters had surrendered with their families to SDF fighters on Monday.
Abdel Rahman said that, so far, some 20,000 people, including 2,400 Islamic State fighters, have handed themselves in to SDF in the past two weeks.
He added that the safe passageway used by civilians and fighters to flee Baghuz in the past weeks is still open and that there are no clashes in the area.
Baghuz, located on the Euphrates river in eastern Syria near the border with Iraq, is the last significant territory still in the hands of Islamic State, which for years controlled swathes of both countries.
Syria's Kurds have played a major role in fighting Islamic State in the war-torn country.
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