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article imageForeign, Syrian IS fighters to evacuate Raqa in deal: local official

By AFP     Oct 14, 2017 in World

Syrian and foreign Islamic State group fighters are to evacuate their one-time bastion Raqa as part of an agreement brokered by tribal leaders, a senior local official told AFP Saturday.

Omar Alloush, a senior official of the Raqa Civil Council, said a deal had been reached to allow fighters out of the city, which is on the verge of being captured by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

"Foreign fighters are included in the deal," he said.

According to Alloush, up to 500 fighters including both Syrian and foreign-born jihadists remain in Raqa.

"They have 400 hostages with them -- women and children -- in the national hospital," he told AFP.

The US-led coalition backing the SDF's drive for Raqa had announced the deal earlier on Saturday but said it would exclude foreign IS fighters.

The agreement comes after days of talks on a way for the US-backed SDF to secure the last parts of the city while avoiding further civilian casualties.

Alloush insisted the agreement included non-Syrian jihadists.

"The foreign fighters have two choices: either surrender or be taken out" of the city, Alloush told AFP, saying it was "possible" they would be taken to Deir Ezzor, an eastern Syrian province where IS still holds territory.

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