OUTSIDE BAGHOUZ, Syria — Small trucks carrying disheveled men, women and children left the Islamic State’s last pocket of territory in eastern Syria in an escorted convoy Friday, hours after U.S.-led coalition airstrikes meant to pressure the militants targeted the area on the banks of the Euphrates River.

At least 36 trucks and two buses were seen carrying civilians through a humanitarian corridor from the militants’ last patch of territory in the remote village of Baghouz near the Iraqi border. They were escorted by gun-mounted pickup trucks belonging to the U.S.-backed fighters who have delayed their final assault on remaining militants, pending the exit of civilians.

As the evacuation was taking place, automatic machine gun fire could be heard in the distance and coalition aircraft flew overhead.

From a self-proclaimed “caliphate” straddling large parts of Syria and neighboring Iraq that they seized in 2014, the militants have lost all but a tiny speck in Baghouz. Some 300 IS militants, along with hundreds of civilians believed to be mostly their families, have been under siege for more than a week in a tent encampment in the village.

A spokesman for the U.S.-backed force said there were coalition airstrikes and intermittent clashes with the militants earlier Friday, meant to pressure them into allowing the last civilians to leave.


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