Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Civilians’ Evacuation Speeds Up Liberation of Raqqa | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A woman, who along with members of her family was used as human shields by ISIS group fighters, holds a new born baby after fleeing from the center of Raqqa, Syria, October 6, 2017. (AFP//BULENT KILIC)

Beirut – The global coalition against ISIS announced on Saturday brokering a deal to evacuate Raqqa from civilians, excluding the foreign members of the terrorist group, a step that would drive the Coalition-led Kurdish-Arab Syrian Democratic Forces to speed up its announcement of liberating the city.

Sources said that Washington rejected that ISIS foreign-born militants be part of the deal, which stipulates the evacuation of civilians from the last pockets of Raqqa.

“The US insists that those militants either be killed or surrender,” the source said.

There are maximum 200 foreign-born militants trapped in the center of the city.

Buses had arrived on Saturday night to the village of Hawi al-Hawa, west Raqqa, to transport local members of ISIS and civilians, according to a deal reached between the SDF and ISIS, and led by the tribal Sheikhs.

Abu Mohammad al-Raqqawi, an activist in the Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, told Asharq Al-Awsat that 90 percent of the deal has been already been completed, adding that the file is now exclusively in the hands of the Coalition.

Separately, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights announced on Saturday that regime forces and their allies controlled the city of Mayadeen, the last stronghold of ISIS in eastern Syria.

Although several sources confirmed the regime’s full control of the city, head of the activist-run Euphrates Post group Ahmad Ramadan told Asharq Al-Awsat that regime forces had only the neighborhoods located at the entrance of the city.

“ISIS militants are withdrawing from Mayadeen towards the town of Bukamal, on the border with Iraq,” he said.
According to Ramadan, regime forces launched more than 200 strikes on Mayadeen and had targeted the city with 200 explosive barrels, destroying 50 percent of the city.

Meanwhile, Damascus demanded on Saturday that Turkish troops immediately leave the province of Idlib in the northwest of the country.

Quoting a source from the foreign ministry, a statement carried by the Syrian official news agency SANA said “Syria condemns in the strongest possible terms the incursion of Turkish army units into Idlib province, stressing that it constitutes a blatant aggression against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country and a flagrant violation of international law.”

The source added that the Turkish aggression has nothing to do with what has been agreed upon by the guarantor states during the latest round of talks in Astana, emphasizing that Turkey should abide by provisions of Astana statement.