Former Spokesman for the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Talal Salou, who defected the SDF and moved to Turkey in mid-November, disclosed on Saturday that thousands of ISIL fighters left Raqqa city in Northeastern Syria in a US-approved secret agreement.
The high-level defector from the Kurdish-led forces that captured the Syrian city of Raqqa from ISIL said thousands of ISIL fighters – many more than first reported – left under a secret, US-approved deal, adding that the SDF arranged to bus all remaining ISIL militants out of Raqqa even though it said at the time it was battling foreign terrorists in the city.
He declared that a US official in the international coalition against ISIL approved the deal at a meeting with an SDF commander.
He stressed that the number of fighters who were allowed to go was far higher and the account of a last-ditch battle was a fiction designed to keep journalists away while the evacuation took place.
“Agreement was reached for the terrorists to leave, about 4,000 people, including their families,” Salou said, adding that all but about 500 were fighters.
He announced that they headed East to ISIL-controlled areas around Deir Ezzur, where the Syrian army and forces supporting President Bashar al-Assad were gaining ground.
For three days the SDF banned people from going to Raqqa, saying fighting was in progress to deal with militants who had not given themselves up.
“It was all theater,” Salou added.
“The announcement was cover for those who left for Deir Ezzur”, he said, adding that the agreement was endorsed by the United States which wanted a swift end to the Raqqa battle so the SDF could move on towards Deir Ezzur.
The defected spokesman of the Kurdish fighters was transferred from Syria to Turkey mid-November by the latter’s spy agency.
According to reports, the Turkish intelligence services played a role in Salou’s defection and took care of him upon arrival in regions controlled by the Ankara-backed Euphrates Shield Operation forces.
Salou is a Turkmen from the town of al-Ra’ei in Northern Aleppo who was the commander of Turkey-backed Liwa al-Salajeqah terrorist group four years ago.
Salou defected the SDF and moved to the town of Jarabulus in Northeastern Aleppo, while his move was done in coordination with the FSA in the region.