Part of Baghouz, a tiny cluster of hamlets and farmland on the banks of the Euphrates at the Iraqi border, is all that remains to ISIS of the "caliphate" straddling the two countries, which its leader proclaimed in 2014.
Women from Iraq, Syria, Russia, Azerbaijan and Poland, an Indonesian boy and enslaved, traumatized Yazidi girls were among those to emerge over the past 48 hours from the caravans of trucks that trundled to an assembly point outside the enclave.
Around 40,000 people have come out over three months, including 15,000 since the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced a final assault to capture it on Feb. 9, said SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali.
The number surpassed initial estimates and has delayed SDF plans to storm the enclave or force the remaining hardened foreign fighters holed up inside to surrender.
As 15 trucks arrived on Wednesday, hundreds of women in
They waited in a
Some 78 people have died reaching the camp or soon
"As many of the new arrivals are pregnant women close to their due date, there is a real need to increase maternity services in the camp," said the IRC.
Men who came off the trucks were searched and interrogated. Several were taken aside and made to kneel on the ground, an arid steppe green in places from recent rains. Some had had feet amputated, some others were on crutches.
Since halting ISIS's advance at the town of Kobani on the Turkish border in early 2015, fighters from the SDF have fought it back across northern and eastern Syria under an intense U.S.-led coalition air campaign.
Some men kneeling in line said they were not fighters but ISIS administrators who had had no part in violence. Other Syrian men said they had not worked at all for ISIS but ended up in its enclave as bus drivers or traders.
"Our special forces investigate the identities of the men in case there are terrorists who infiltrate with civilians," said Bali.
While searching people leaving Baghouz, the SDF has found bombs, suicide vests
The varied backgrounds of those who came out attested to the way ISIS drew in people from across the
An 11-year-old Indonesian boy said he had been in Syria for four years, brought by his parents to join the group's caliphate. They had lived in Iraq and in eastern Syria, he said, and he had
His mother died in the bombardment and his father, a fighter, had left Baghouz with him and was now detained, leaving him alone and far from home.
SUPPORTERS AND VICTIMS
On Tuesday two very young Yazidi girls came out of Baghouz on a truck with phone numbers scrawled on their arms. They had been grabbed by ISIS fighters in the Sinjar region of Iraq and made captive. The SDF will try to reunite them with their families in Iraq, it said.
But many of those emerging from Baghouz still supported the organization which had enslaved those children, pointing to its lingering threat.
Marwa, a 19-year-old Iraqi woman, said she had come to Syria after her father had been arrested and her brother killed in an air strike in Iraq.
"I feel like I'm in a dream. I left ISIS and came here, I came out of a dream," she said.
Umm Hisham, a young woman from Aleppo in Syria, said the situation in Baghouz was miserable. "Everyone is dying. Hundreds of sisters are dying. The children are dying of hunger," she said.
Her husband, an ISIS member, was injured by sniper fire and insisted that she leave the enclave with their two small children so he could seek treatment.
She had been willing to die inside. "I do not regret joining ISIS.