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Raqqa Battle Nears End as ISIS Terrorists Surrender | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The National Hospital is pictured from the positions of the Syrian Democratic Forces at the frontline in Raqqa, Syria on October 8, 2017. (Reuters)

Syrian ISIS members in Raqqa have started to leave the northern city in recent days, said a Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The removal of foreign ISIS fighters is being prepared.

“All Syrian fighters from the ISIS group left Raqa over the past five days,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman, saying they headed to unknown destinations.

Some 200 ISIS members surrendered and they have left the area with their families, he added.

A local official revealed however that members of the terror group have surrendered to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). He did not specify their numbers.

The Observatory had reported earlier that a convoy of buses had entered Raqqa to transport the remaining ISIS members and their families outside of the city.

A spokesman for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) stated that the forces combating ISIS in Raqqa are on the verge of defeating the group and declaring victory.

Nuri Mahmoud predicted that the announcement of the liberation of Raqqa will take place later on Saturday or on Sunday.

A spokesman for the US-led coalition fighting ISIS said that some 100 fighters had surrendered in the city in the past 24. They have since been removed from the area.

“We still expect difficult fighting in the days ahead and will not set a time for when we think ISIS will be completely defeated in Raqqa,” said coalition spokesman Ryan Dillon.

US Secretary of Defense James Mattis announced on Friday that the coalition will accept the surrender of ISIS members in Raqqa.

He added however that the surrender of the more radicalized members will not be accepted.

The international coalition estimated in a report on Thursday that some 4,000 civilians were still trapped in Raqqa. Most of them are being used as human shields by 300 to 400 ISIS terrorists.

Backed by coalition air strikes, the SDF succeeded in liberating nearly 90 percent of Raqqa, ISIS’ former stronghold in Syria.