YPG, ISIL struck deals on three occasions, including Raqqa: Ex-spokesman
The former spokesman of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a militant group dominated by the Syrian Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units (YPG), has said the SDF struck deals with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on three separate occasions to evacuate them from certain areas, including Raqqa.
Talal Silo, a former high-ranking commander, is currently in Turkey after defecting from the SDF last month.
Speaking to state-run Anadolu Agency in an interview published on Dec. 4, Silo spoke about YPG agreements with ISIL to allow the latter’s fighters to leave three places, struck “with the support and knowledge of the U.S.”
“The Raqqa negotiations were done at the SDF’s general headquarters in Ain Issa. They lasted for two days … ISIL did not have any other place to go but Deir Ezzor. The U.S. seemed to agree with that. Because the SDF made two moves [in Raqqah and Deir Ezzor] at the same time. Their men in Deir Ezzor were weak, and the U.S. wanted the SDF to start the Deir Ezzor operation to reach the Iraqi border before the [Syrian] regime army arrived,” he said.
“According to the Americans, the regime army could reach Deir Ezzor in six weeks. But when the regime army proceeded faster than expected, the U.S. wanted the SDF to start negotiations with ISIL. The terrorists would therefore go to Al-Bukamal [near the Iraqi border] and prevent the regime’s advance,” Silo said.
“Talks were held to allow 3,500 terrorists to leave. There were also about 500 women and children. The U.S. … wanted these terrorists to reach Deir Ezzor before the Syrian regime army. For this reason, the ones leaving Raqqa would not be shot,” he added.
“Most of them entered the areas of the Euphrates Shield Operation [areas of Syria near the Turkish border previously cleared of ISIL by Turkish-backed fighters],” Silo said.
Meanwhile, the YPG said on Dec. 3 it had fully captured Deir Ezzor’s eastern countryside from ISIL, with the help of both the U.S.-led coalition and Russia.
The YPG offensive in Deir Ezzor province, which borders Iraq, has focused on territory east of the Euphrates River.
On the western bank, the Syrian military has waged its own attack against ISIL with support from Iran-backed militias and Russia.
The separate assaults advanced from opposite sides of the river, which bisects oil-rich Deir Ezzor, mostly staying out of each other’s way.
The operation result was shared with the public by Russian general Alex Kim and YPG spokesman Nuri Mahmud in a press conference, Doğan News Agency reported.
“The eastern countryside of the city has been fully liberated from ISIL ... with the international coalition and Russia’s support. We thank the international coalition and the Russian forces for their air, logistical, advisory support and coordination on the ground,” they said.
According to the former YPG spokesman Silo, Raqqa was actually the third place where ISIL has evacuated its fighters after an agreement with the SDF. The previous two deals took place during the clearance of Manbij and the city of Al-Tabqah in Raqqa Governorate.
Asked about the agreement in Al Tabqah, Silo said many operations were launched but they failed.
“ISIL resisted strongly. Then they were obliged to negotiate … ISIL’s demand was to go to Tabqah from Raqqa with their weapons and ammunition. After Cilo met the Americans on our behalf, ISIL’s safe exit was allowed,” he said, referring to SDF general commander Şahin Cilo.