U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces continue their push to remove the last remnants of Islamic State militants from eastern Syria, intensifying their attacks at night against what is considered the last piece of territory under the terror group's control.
Coupled with U.S.-led airstrikes, SDF fighters have increasingly been attacking several IS positions inside Baghuz, Syria, late at night, SDF officials told VOA.
On Wednesday, the Kurdish-led SDF waged a major assault in the center of Baghuz, local military officials said.
"Now, we are carrying out strikes against IS. Hopefully, we will clear them from this last speck of territory soon," an SDF fighter who did not want to be identified told VOA.
Located on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, Baghuz has been under attack for more than a month, with several hundred IS fighters still resisting SDF advances.
"Geography is a major factor in prolonging this fight and delaying our ultimate victory" in Baghuz, said Mustafa Bali, a spokesperson for SDF.
"This is a flat region where they have firmly entrenched. Basically, Daesh militants can see us, but we can't see them or their movements during the daylight," he said in a phone interview, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.
Bali added that another reason SDF has been focusing on night raids is that many IS "terrorists choose to surrender themselves during daytime."
Amid a fierce night of fighting, a VOA cameraman embedded with SDF forces spotted dozens of IS fighters captured by the SDF as they tried to carry out a counterattack against an SDF position.
SDF Intensifies Nighttime Offensives Against IS
Ivan Hasib, a Syrian reporter embedded with the SDF, said SDF fighters have not been able to confront IS directly.
IS "is sending suicide bombers toward SDF fighters all the time, so that's why the SDF has been attacking at night, which is the only time they are in full control of the battle," he said.
During the Wednesday night clashes, the SDF paused for several hours to allow more families of IS fighters evacuate from Baghuz.
About 60 people, including women and children, were evacuated, SDF sources said. They were from Turkmenistan and the Netherlands, as well as some local Syrians, the same sources told VOA.