BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:05 P.M.) – The BBC leaked details, Monday, of a secret deal that had the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) surrender Raqqa City to the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in early October.
“The BBC has uncovered details of a secret deal that let hundreds of IS fighters and their families escape from Raqqa, under the gaze of the US and British-led coalition and Kurdish-led forces who control the city,” the report began.
“The deal to let IS fighters escape from Raqqa – de facto capital of their self-declared caliphate – had been arranged by local officials. It came after four months of fighting that left the city obliterated and almost devoid of people. It would spare lives and bring fighting to an end. The lives of the Arab, Kurdish and other fighters opposing IS would be spared,” the BBC continued.
According to the report, some 250 Islamic State terrorists were allowed to leave the city, along with 3,500 of their family members that were trapped in Raqqa with them.
“We didn’t want anyone to leave,” says Col Ryan Dillon, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, the Western coalition against IS, as quoted by the BBC.
“But this goes to the heart of our strategy, ‘by, with and through’ local leaders on the ground. It comes down to Syrians – they are the ones fighting and dying, they get to make the decisions regarding operations,” he added.
The Islamic State fighters reportedly fled to many areas, including Turkey and the Deir Ezzor Governorate.
The U.S. Coalition had previously criticized the Syrian government and Hezbollah for allowing a smaller convoy ISIS terrorists and civilians to leave the Lebanese border for the Deir Ezzor Governorate.