French extremist Jean-Michel Clain killed in Syria: wife

Columns of black smoke rise from the last small piece of territory held by Islamic State militants as U.S. backed fighters pound the area with artillery fire and occasional airstrikes

Columns of black smoke rise from the last small piece of territory held by Islamic State militants as U.S. backed fighters pound the area with artillery fire and occasional airstrikes

Earlier, US-backed Syrian fighters battling the militants in their last foothold in Syria said they had been forced to slow down their push because the extremists were using civilians as human shields.

Monitors with the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said about 150 IS fighters surrendered to the SDF, part of a group of about 400 people that left the ever-shrinking enclave on the banks of the Euphrates River. "We maybe on the threshold of a new battle", he said.

"We're slowing down the offensive in #Baghouz due to a small number of civilians held as human shields by Daesh", Mustafa Bali, the SDF spokesman, announced on Twitter late Sunday.

The Kurd-led force pushed into Baghouz on Saturday, breaching the jihadist's parameter.

An airstrike followed but it was not exactly clear what it targeted.

The thousands that have poured out of Baghouz have posed a huge humanitarian challenge in Kurdish-run camps for the displaced in northeast Syria. The camp now holds at least 45,000 people, according to Jens Laerke, spokesman of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), who said many people had arrived exhausted, hungry and sick.

The U.S. -backed SDF began their final assault on the last remnant of the Islamic State's self-declared caliphate late Friday, surrounding the village of Baghuz with about 15,000 troops and with the backing of U.S. and coalition airpower.

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Robert Mardini of the International Committee for the Red Cross said in NY that the population in the camp has risen from 34,000 at the beginning of December to 45,000 now.

ISIS soldiers are using civilians as "human shields" in an attempt to slow down US -backed forces that have cornered the terrorists in the small Syrian town of Baghouz.

After months under heavy bombardment and sometimes with very little to eat, many of those emerging from Baghouz are in poor physical and psychological health. SDF fighters had tightened the noose on the militants the day before, advancing from two fronts and cutting off their access to the river in Baghouz.

The capture of Baghouz would mark the end of IS territorial control in the region and deal a death blow to the "caliphate".

At its peak more than four years ago, the proto-state created by IS was the size of the United Kingdom and administered millions of people.

It minted its own currency, levied taxes, published a wide array of propaganda material and designed its own school curricula.

The fall of Baghouz would carry mostly symbolic value. Fabien Clain was killed in a strike by the USA -led military coalition in Syria in February.

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