BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:45 A.M.) – The Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition To Counter ISIS Brett McGurk estimated that there are some 2,000 self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL/ISIS) fighters that remain in the Syrian city of Raqqa, at a press conference in Washington DC, Friday.
Speaking to reporters, McGurk described IS as ‘barbaric’ when he explained the methods its fighters are using to evade capture.
“ISIS fighters on the ground are using these civilians as their own shields, as their own hostages. They are using snipers to kill civilians who are trying to escape,” McGurk said. “They’re trying to put suicide bombers in columns of displaced people as they try to get out.”
McGurk urged caution when estimating the number of fighters and civilians on the ground, as well as the potential timescale for the rest of the operation in Raqqa.
“Just because 45 percent of the city is cleared in two months, it does not mean this will be finished in another two months. That’s not how these things go. Sometimes they go faster. Sometimes they go a lot slower than you might anticipate,” McGurk told the media.
The envoy also went on to describe the ongoing battle in Syria as “exemplifying” the US and Russia’s co-operation in the face of rising tensions between the two.