A man suspected of belonging to the Islamic State group walks past members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces just after leaving IS' last holdout of Baghuz, in the eastern Syrian province of Deir Ezzor on March 4, 2019.
A man suspected of belonging to the Islamic State group walks past members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces just after leaving IS' last holdout of Baghuz, in the eastern Syrian province of Deir Ezzor on March 4, 2019.

In eastern Syria, U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) say Islamic State is trying to slow the attack on the terror group's last scrap of territory in the town of Baghuz by using snipers, suicide bombers and civilians as human shields.

A VOA cameraman traveling with Kurdish fighters spoke to several about what appears to be the final days of the battle.

A child stands on the back of a truck after being evacuated out of the last territory held by Islamic State militants, outside Baghuz, Syria,  March 4, 2019.
Lull in Fighting Lets Islamic State Families Flee, Fighters Surrender
Hundreds of Islamic State fighters and family members fled the northeastern Syrian village of Baghuz, taking advantage of a pause in ferocious fighting with the U.S.-backed forces that have surrounded the last patch of the terror group's self-declared caliphate.Officials with the Syrian Democratic Forces, Kurdish militias and human right monitors confirmed the exodus late Monday, though the number of fighters and civilians varied.Monitors with the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said…

SDF officials said Monday the vast majority of civilians have already left Baghuz, but a small number are still trapped in the town by IS. 

"We don't have an estimate of how many civilians are still inside Baghuz," Lilwa Abdullah, an SDF spokeswoman, told VOA.

Other SDF officials said that IS fighters have increased their counterattacks on SDF fighters, using suicide bombers, explosive-laden vehicles and tunnels. 

"This is something that [IS] have done in previous battles, too," Mervan Rojava, an SDF media officer, said. "But this time it is challenging for them because they have nowhere else to go."

He told VOA that the militant group now only controls less than 2 square kilometers inside Baghuz.

"All the tunnels they have dug for a moment like this aren't really useful because they control a very small patch of territory. But they are taking advantage of sending a large number of suicide bombers toward us," Rojava said. 

WATCH: IS Using Human Shields to Slow SDF Advance

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Kurdish military officials believe there are some families of IS fighters who are refusing to leave the town. 

IS has been increasingly using snipers to slow down the attack on the terror group. One SDF fighter was wounded by an IS sniper who was hiding behind a child, the SDF reported on Monday.

"Our comrades were closing in on a building when one of [IS's] snipers targeted one of our comrades in the vehicle," an SDF fighter, who witnessed the incident and did not want to be identified for security reasons, told VOA.

Another SDF fighter said that U.S.-led coalition warplanes could not hit IS targets inside Baghuz because of the presence of women and children.

"They are hiding among those women and children. How can warplanes target them? Civilians would die if they targeted [IS]," the SDF fighter, who also didn't want to be identified, told VOA. 

So far in the month of March, at least 164 IS fighters have been killed, SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali told local radio station Arta FM on Monday. 

Four SDF fighters were killed in recent clashes with IS, Bali said. 

Nisan Ahmado contributed to this report.