Hundreds of suspected members of the Daesh terror group and thousands of their family members were allowed to flee Raqqa in convoys arranged by US-backed forces in the days before the city fell to coalition forces, Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon told reporters on Tuesday.
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon essentially confirmed a BBC report that 250 Daesh fighters and thousands of family members, along with weapons and other supplies, were disbursed throughout Syria in a series of convoys that were arranged by US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in an attempt to reduce bloodshed in the final days of the battle for Raqqa.
“In the course of that screening there were four foreign fighters that were identified and detained by the Syrian Democratic Forces,” Dillon said. “Out of the rest of the 3,500 civilians that came out of Raqqa at that time, approximately less than 300 were identified and screened as potential ISIS [Daesh] fighters.”
As part of the agreement, male evacuees were screened and processed for biometric data, Dillon said.
With remaining Daesh fighters evacuated, the US-led coalition announced in October that the terror group’s self-declared capital of Raqqa had been liberated.
Later that month, the Syrian news agency SANA reported, citing an official source at the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry, that the Syrian government would consider Raqqa an occupied city until it comes under the control of the Syrian army.