The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) say the battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) in Baghouz is as good as over, with the armed group facing imminent defeat.

Thick black smoke rose from the ISIL-held encampment on Wednesday, as air strikes and mortar fire pounded Baghouz for a third night in a row.

The Kurdish-led SDF has unleashed a deluge of fire on Baghouz, a little cluster of hamlets and farmland on the banks of the Euphrates river, with around 3,000 ISIL fighters and their families surrendering since Monday.

Kino Gabriel, a spokesman for the SDF, said that after the series of surrenders, the offensive against ISIL was “as good as over”.

“The operation is over, or as good as over, but requires a little more time to be completed practically”.

As the crackle and thud of gunfire and shelling rang out from the encampment early on Wednesday, the SDF said that three Yazidi women and four children held captive by ISIL had been rescued.

“The objective of our advance is to terrorise ISIL fighters so they surrender, and for the civilians to come out,” said Ali Cheir, an SDF commander.

Baghouz is all that remains of ISIL’s so-called caliphate after it lost its major cities of Mosul and Raqqa in 2017.

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