An investigation conducted by the BBC reporters Quentin Sommerville and Riam Dalati, revealed that some 4000 ISIS members and their relatives were able to escape the city of Raqqa in a deal supervised by the US-led International Coalition.
The ISIS members left the city in a convoy that consisted of almost 50 trucks, 13 buses and more than 100 of ISIS vehicles. The drivers, who were hired by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces told the reporters that they had been tricked into the deal under the pretext of evacuating “civilians”.
The Coalition have previously denied the deal only to admit that ISIS fighters were indeed evacuated from the city to facilitate the offensive of the SDF units. According to the Coalition’s spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon, the deal was brokered by SDF and the coalition representative did not play an “active part” in it.
“We didn’t want anyone to leave,” he said, insisting that the number of foreign fighters who had managed to escape was no more than four.
This statement was refuted by eyewitnesses, including lorry drivers, who said that among many hundreds ISIS fighters who left with convoy were those who came from France, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi, China, Tunisia, Egypt as well as other countries.
Many of the foreign fighters choose to flee towards the Iraqi border while others decided to go to Idlib province. It is not clear, how many foreign ISIS members were able to leave Syria and head to their home countries.