Tens of thousands of people, mostly Daesh militants and their relatives, have left the terror group's last bastions in and around Syria's Baghouz in recent weeks.
Hundreds of more people made their way on Wednesday out of Daesh's last pocket in eastern Syria, besieged by US-backed militants that have held off a final assault to allow what they say is an unexpectedly large number of civilians to leave.
Since the terrorist YPG-dominated SDF announced last month it was launching a final assault on Baghouz, Daesh terrorists, family members, captives and local villagers have poured from the tiny enclave.
A war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), said there were preparations in eastern Syria to announce the end of Daesh there.
The fall of Baghouz would mark the end of the rule of Daesh's self-proclaimed "caliphate" overpopulated territory, although some militants are still hiding out in remote desert or have gone underground.
Since Monday, hundreds of surrendering terrorists have abandoned their enclave. Colonel Sean Ryan, spokesman for the US-led coalition backing the SDF militants, nevertheless said the international force had "learned not to put any timetables on the last battle."
The Syrian regime's air strikes against terrorists in the country's central desert were a reminder of the constant warnings by both Arab and Western officials that Daesh, which ruled around a third of both Iraq and Syria at its height in 2014, will continue to pose a major security threat.
An SDF source put the number of people who left the Baghouz pocket on Wednesday morning at more than 2,000. It was not clear whether this figure included only civilians. The SDF claimed about 6,500 people had left the area over the previous two days, including hundreds of men.
Among those who came out on Wednesday were 11 captive children from the Yazidi community. Daesh subjected the Yazidis to mass slaughter and enslavement in what the United Nations called a genocide, after overrunning the community's heartland of Sinjar in Iraq in 2014.
Live TV footage broadcast on Al Hadath TV showed an area of desert where evacuees from Baghouz had gathered, with scores of children and black-veiled women sitting on the ground or hauling luggage as they trudged along.
#SOHR Coalition and #SDF intensify the aerial and ground shelling on #Baghuz farms and the vicinity of its camp within the last chapter of the last chance operation and the last to come out reach the safe road https://t.co/fqcRgNmr9t— #المرصدالسوري #SOHR (@syriahr) March 5, 2019
The large number of people leaving Baghouz, a tiny collection of hamlets and farmland on the Euphrates at the Iraqi border, appears to have taken the SDF militants by surprise.
On Friday, the terror group said only Daesh militants remained in the area, but after a ferocious assault in the following days, it again slowed the attack to allow more civilians out.
Washington considers the YPG-dominated SDF a strong ally in the fight against Daesh – a bone of contention between Ankara and Washington.
The YPG is the Syrian branch of the PKK, which is considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the EU.
Daesh militants captured
The YPG-dominated SDF militants claimed to have captured around 400 Daesh terrorists in eastern Syria as they attempted to slip out of their besieged enclave of Baghouz.
The SDF militants intercepted a large group trying to escape from the village, the last tiny patch of territory under Daesh control, the officer said.
Their breakout was organised by a network that aimed to spirit them to remote regions, the militants claimed.
They were on foot and included Syrians as well as militants from several other nationalities, a source said.