The US-backed alliance of militants, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), says last Daesh terrorists have been evacuated from their one-time bastion of Raqqah as part of an agreement.
“Last night, the final batch of fighters (who had agreed to leave) left the city,” SDF spokesman Mostafa Bali said on Sunday, not clarifying where the Takfiri terrorists had been transferred.
He also said Daesh elements had refused to release the civilians they had allegedly taken as human shield until they arrived at their destination.
Omar Alloush, a senior official of the Raqqah Civil Council, told AFP that a deal had been reached to allow the militants, including both Syrian and foreign-born terrorists, out of the city.
He said it was “possible” that they had been taken to the neighboring Dayr al-Zawr Province where Syrian government forces are currently in the midst of fierce clashes with Daesh.
The evacuation came at a time when sweeping gains made by Syrian government forces against the foreign-sponsored militants have put them on the brink of total defeat in Dayr al-Zawr.
On Saturday, Syrian government forces liberated the strategic eastern city of Mayadin, more than one month after they broke the three-year-long Daesh siege on the neighboring Dayr al-Zawr city.
Earlier this week, Russia’s Defense Ministry said that the US military had reduced its airstrikes in Iraq to allow militants to stream into Syria and that Washington was only pretending to be battling Daesh.
Observers say the US military plan currently is to take territory from Daesh terrorists and give it to the militants under its support and shepherd the Takfiri terrorists to the battlefields against Syrian government forces and their allies.
Russia says the United States is only pretending to be fighting the Daesh terrorist group in Syria and Iraq.
The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in several reports recently that the US had airlifted a number of Daesh commanders near Dayr al-Zawr, where Syrian troops were closing in on the terrorists.
The reports by the London-based Observatory which is a regular source of news from Syria for the mainstream Western media were met with a blackout.
The assault by US-led Kurdish militants to capture Raqqah began on June 6. Nuri Mahmud, a spokesman for the militants, said Daesh was “on the verge of being finished in Raqqah in the coming days.”
The Syrian army soldiers and their allies are also engaged in a battle around Raqqah and the operations by US-led militants who do not coordinate them with the Syrian military have raised the possibility of a confrontation between them.
In recent weeks, SDF has reportedly shelled the positions of government troops on several occasions. Last month, the militants rushed to occupy several fields in the oil-rich Dayr al-Zawr as the Syrian army broke Daesh’s defense lines.
Raqqah was the first big Syrian city to fall to Daesh as it declared a “caliphate” and rampaged through Syria and Iraq in 2014, becoming an operations center for attacks abroad and the stage for some of its darkest atrocities.
On Sunday, the Reuters news agency said the SDF’s decision to hasten the battle’s end by allowing Daesh terrorists to leave Raqqah was at odds with Washington’s stated goals and earlier objections to negotiating safe exits for the extremists.
Colonel Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the US coalition, said it was not involved in the evacuation but added: “We may not always fully agree with our partners at times. But we have to respect their solutions.”
The US move to allow Kurdish-dominated forces to take control of the Arab-majority Raqqah is seen by many as a prelude to further flare-up of tensions.