ISIS militants refuse surrender, attempt to negotiate exit
Hundreds of militants fighting for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are refusing to surrender in the Syrian village of Baghouz despite being surrounded by U.S.-aligned Syrian forces.
The Associated Press reports that militants in the village are surrounded by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) but are refusing to surrender and are requesting passage to the rebel-held Idlib province in the northwestern part of the country.
Hundreds of civilians, including families of ISIS militants, remain in the village, complicating the SDF's final push into Baghouz, according to the AP.
Negotiations between the ISIS forces and SDF troops are ongoing, the AP reports.
The SDF's top commander says that Baghouz is one of the few remaining ISIS-held areas stopping the coalition of anti-ISIS militant groups from declaring total victory against the terrorist organization.
“In a very short time, not longer than a few days, we will officially announce the end of IS’s existence,” he said, according to The Express Tribune.
President TrumpDonald TrumpThe Memo: The Obamas unbound, on race Iran says onus is on US to rejoin nuclear deal on third anniversary of withdrawal Assaults on Roe v Wade increasing MORE declared victory against ISIS last year, writing on Twitter in December that his administration had "defeated ISIS in Syria" and would therefore beginning pulling U.S. troops out of the country.
"These victories over ISIS in Syria do not signal the end of the Global Coalition or its campaign," the White House said in December.
"We have started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign," press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at the time. "The United States and our allies stand ready to re-engage at all levels to defend American interests whenever necessary, and we will continue to work together to deny radical Islamist terrorists territory, funding, support, and any means of infiltrating our borders."