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Exodus of families as U.S.-backed forces close in on Raqqa

Raqqa refugees
Exodus of refugees as U.S.-backed forces close in on Raqqa 01:48

NEAR RAQQA, Syria -- In Syria, U.S.-backed forces are closing in on the city of Raqqa, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria's capital. Families are fleeing the battle.

In the desert west of Raqqa, there's an exodus.

In the only vehicles they have, their belongings are caked in dust. They stream out of villages where ISIS is losing territory, some shepherding the animals that are their livelihood. 

Many women throwing off the black veils that ISIS forced them to wear.

They've escaped ISIS but now wait in the desert west of Raqqa, the ISIS capital, for the city to be liberated.  CBS News

"They wanted to suffocate us, to cover us," said Busaina al-Hamoud, who told CBS News she lived under ISIS for three years, and had her 13-year-old son smuggled out of the country, fearing he'd be recruited by the extremists.

Aisha Attia is seven months pregnant, and said she fled her home three days ago.

Thousands of people are now camped in the open, with precious little water, and no medicine.

U.S. weapons boost ISIS fight, but anger key ally 01:33

Inside Raqqa, the U.S. believes, are 3,000-4,000 ISIS fighters -- killers and executioners. They're expected to fight to the death as America's Kurdish partners tighten the noose.

They recaptured the town of Tabqa and its dam earlier this month, just 25 miles from Raqqa.

Their commander, Rojda Filat, told CBS News they'll reach the city by next month, and could capture it by the end of the summer.

That's a long time for these people, who've escaped ISIS, only to find themselves stranded in the wilderness.

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