Isis fighters ‘seek deal’ to leave Raqqa using human shields
US-led coalition says it does not condone allowing terrorists leave ‘without facing justice’
Aftermath of an air strike by coalition forces at the frontline, in Raqqa, Syria. File photograph: Erik De Castro/Reuters
A convoy is set to leave the Islamic State-held enclave of Syria’s Raqqa city on Saturday under an arrangement brokered by local officials, the US-led coalition against Islamic State said on Saturday.
“The arrangement is designed to minimise civilian casualties and purportedly excludes foreign [Islamic State] terrorists,” the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve said in an emailed statement.
The statement said the coalition did not condone “any arrangement that allows [Islamic State] terrorists to escape Raqqa without facing justice”.
Earlier, a local official claimed the jihadists were negotiating with tribal elders to arrange a deal that would allow them to leave the city taking civilians with them as human shields.
“If it happens, it looks like it will be today – foreign and local [fighters],” Omar Alloush, a member of the Raqqa Civil Council, said, adding that the elders had already persuaded 100 Islamic State fighters to surrender – something the remaining fighters had ruled out.
The Syrian Kurdish YPG militia told Reuters Islamic State, also known as Isis, was on the verge of defeat in Raqqa and the city may finally be cleared of the jihadists on Saturday or Sunday.
“The battles are continuing in Raqqa city. Daesh [Islamic State] is on the verge of being finished. Today or tomorrow the city may be liberated,” YPG spokesman Nouri Mahmoud said by telephone.