Fires in Baghouz, Syria in the final days of attacks by the US and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces to remove ISIS, March 2019
There is concern for civilians after the Islamic State was defeated in its last village in Syria.
The US-supported, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces declared the end of the ISIS caliphate on Saturday, three days after saying that they had taken the village of Baghouz on the Euphrates River near the Iraq border.
SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali tweeted, “Baghouz is free and the military victory against Daesh has been achieved.”
Syrian Democratic Forces declare total elimination of so-called caliphate and %100 territorial defeat of ISIS. On this unique day, we commemorate thousands of martyrs whose efforts made the victory possible. #SDFDefeatedISIS
— Mustafa Bali (@mustefabali) March 23, 2019
Journalists saw the remains of a tent camp shredded by bombing. The field was littered with bomb craters, scorched tents, the twisted metal of vehicles, and abandoned trenches.
Thousands of people, including the families of ISIS fighters and those surrendering, were evacuated from Baghouz to overcrowded camps in northeast Syria in the final weeks of the SDF offensive, but local activists say hundreds of civilians remained.
Images on social media in recent days claim to be of those burned to death in US-led airstrikes and SDF ground assaults. The activists of Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently asserted:
The SDF militia is preventing all foreign and local journalists from entering the town of #AlBaghuz after photos were leaked the other day of the terrible massacre committed by the SDF and International Coalition there.#Raqqa #ISIS #YPG #SYRIA
— الرقة تذبح بصمت (@Raqqa_SL) March 21, 2019
The Syria Campaign issued a general appeal for up to 20,000 people believed to have abducted by ISIS since 2014:
The families of the disappeared are asking whether anyone will help them find out what happened to their missing loved ones….
Families are deeply frustrated at the lack of information and concerned that former ISIS detention centers aren’t being handled with care, destroying crucial evidence….Meanwhile, mass graves are being exhumed by local teams without the proper funding, expertise ,and resources to identify all bodies and preserve evidence. There are reports that the bodies of thousands of people have been reburied as unidentified victims.
AirWars, which has monitored civilian casualties from bombing in Iraq and Syria, estimates that at least 7,500 civilians have been killed by US-led coalition strikes since 2014.
The US Central Command has only conceded 1,257 deaths.