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Defector says thousands of Islamic State fighters left Raqqa in secret deal
by Dominic Evans and Orhan Coskun
Reuters Translate This Article
7 December 2017
On 7 December 2017 Reuters reported:
A high-level defector from Kurdish-led forces that captured the Syrian city of Raqqa from Islamic State has recanted his account of the city's fall, saying thousands of IS fighters -- many more than first reported -- left under a secret, U.S.-approved deal. Talal Silo, a former commander in the Syrian Democratic Forces ... told Reuters in an interview that the number of fighters who were allowed to go was far higher and the account of a last-ditch battle was a fiction designed to keep journalists away while the evacuation took place. At the time there were conflicting accounts of whether or not foreign Islamic State fighters had been allowed to leave Raqqa. The BBC later reported that one of the drivers in the exodus described a convoy of up to 7 km (4 miles) long made up of 50 trucks, 13 buses, and 100 Islamic State vehicles, packed with fighters and ammunition.
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The Turkish government has expressed concern that some fighters who left Raqqa could have been smuggled across the border into Turkey and could try to launch attacks there or in the West.
'Agreement was reached for the terrorists to leave, about 4,000 people, them and their families,' Silo said, adding that all but about 500 were fighters.
He said they headed east to Islamic State-controlled areas around Deir al-Zor, where the Syrian army and forces supporting President Bashar al-Assad were gaining ground. ...
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