Turkey criticizes ISIL-SDF deal for evacuation of fighters from Raqqa

Turkey criticizes ISIL-SDF deal for evacuation of fighters from Raqqa

Turkey criticizes ISIL-SDF deal for evacuation of fighters from Raqqa

The Turkish Foreign Ministry has criticized a deal between U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) for the re-capture of Raqqa

The ministry said the reported evacuation of ISIL members from the besieged city of Raqqa in Syria, as a result of an agreement with the SDF, which is dominated by the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), is an “extremely grave and eye-opening revelation.”

“We have repeatedly stressed that the true purpose of the PKK/YPG in Syria is not to fight Daesh but to create an illegitimate fait accompli on the ground, to occupy territories, and to alter their demographic structures,” the ministry said in a written statement on Nov. 14, using an Arabic acronym for ISIL.  

The SDF gave permission for around 250 ISIL fighters to leave Raqqa along with weapons and 3,500 of their family members, the BBC reported.

“The [SDF-ISIL] deal sets a new example of the fact that fighting one terrorist organization with another eventually results in these terrorist organizations colluding with each other,” read the statement. 

The ministry also said it “deplores the statements of the spokespersons of the Global Coalition against Daesh and the U.S. Department of Defense,” which had expressed their “respect” for the deal.        

The spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition against ISIL had said on Nov. 14 that foreign fighters from ISIL “may have escaped the Syrian city of Raqqa shortly before its recapture.” 

Coalition spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon told reporters that “out of the 3,500 civilians that came out of ... Raqaa at that time, approximately less than 300 were identified and screened as potential ISIL fighters.”    

“In the course of that screening, there were four foreign fighters that were identified and were detained by the SDF,” Dillon said.

Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon defined the deal as part of a “local solution to a local issue.”

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