Terrorist group Isis has resorted to using human shields after losing ground in Syria, which has pushed the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to halt ground assaults against them, according to AFP.
An SDF fighter said that forces “haven't moved forward for almost six days.” SDF fighter, 22-year-old Mohammed Ibrahim Mohammed, from nearby Hajin in east Syria, pointed out that Isis uses human shields to prevent security forces from fighting them.
Just a few dozen metres away, trucks, motorcycles and cars driven by Isis fighters zip along the front line and out towards white tents further away, surrounded by women wearing long black robes.
Mohammed explains that the forces are restrained from fighting when they see the women coming to collect wood from nearby palm trees. Others perch on balconies and roofs with a view over the other side, on one terrace, a fighter uses binoculars to a get a closer look at militants just a stone's throw away.
In the neighboring village of Al-Shaafa, the SDF's spokesman for the Deir Ezzor region, said the assault has been put on hold to protect civilians. "The jihadists are using the civilians as human shields to block our advance,” spokesman Adnan Afrin told AFP.
That has forced women and children, including members of fighters' families, to remain close to the battle.
"They are putting the civilians on the front lines," he said, adding that airstrikes and artillery continued to target positions further back, "where the jihadists are concentrated."
Isis has used trapped civilians among its fighters to slow offensives against its so-called caliphate. They keep traps and minefields to prevent civilians from escaping and disrupt attackers.
Moreover, SDF is considering new safe corridors to help civilians escape the group’s custody, according to Afrin, who said that the battle against Isis will end by military means and no negotiations are expected.