Convoy of ISIS fighters allowed to leave key Syrian city
WASHINGTON – A couple hundred vehicles of Islamic State (ISIS) fighters were allowed to leave the northern Syrian city of Manbij as U.S.-backed forces seized the town in recent days because the militants had civilians with them, according to a U.S. military official.
The official said Tuesday that some of the ISIS fighters may have already made their way into Turkey, but many are still in Syria. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.
Col. Chris Garver, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS, told Pentagon reporters that the decision to let the convoy leave the city was made by commanders of the Syrian Democratic Forces. He said there were civilians in each of the vehicles, and the military wanted to avoid casualties. He added that he doesn’t know how many of the civilians may have been in the cars voluntarily, but some were likely hostages.
It’s not clear if the militants left under a pre-arranged agreement between the SDF and the ISIS fighters. During the offensive, the SDF had offered fighters a safe route to leave the town but they refused. – READ MORE