On October 13th news broke that the SDF, backed by the Coalition, has come to an agreement with IS to give them free, unobstructed exit from their stronghold and de facto capital in Iraq, Raqqa.
Under the US and Kurdish proxy air surveillance, the convoy, taking IS fighters, their family and all the ammunition they could stuff into the vehicles departed to reinforce the aggression in the Syrian conflict.
Repressed and cornered in the city, the IS negotiated with the local tribal elders under the sponsorship of the SDF to negotiate their safe passage in exchange for freeing the civilians stuck in the city as hostages against the Coalition.
This isn’t the first time that the US-led Coalition has overseen such deals however. As the Moon of Alabama notes, similar deals have taken place over the last couple of years. For instance, the city of Manbij was conquered by allowing the IS resistance to voluntarily and safely move towards the Turkish border. Similarly, on June this year, convoys of IS fighters left the Syrian city of Raqqa unharmed while it was being bombed at the same moment.
What is different about the October deal, however, is that the BBC investigated what they described as an “exodus” and give us a sense of the scale of the caged tiger that’s being let loose to spread beyond the Iraqi borders.
While the SDF and Coalition claim that they “didn’t want anyone to leave,” they conceded to the decisions made by their proxy, “the local leaders on the ground.” “the ones fighting and dying” to prevent unnecessary casualty. On the other hand, the deal directly let IS reinforce their battlefront against the Syrian forces.
On the same day the BBC investigation went live, Defense Secretary Mattis an open-ended commitment to US presence in the Syria as the IS strongholds were being quelled. Just late last year, IS’ Mosul evacuation directly lead to a successful offensive against Deir ez-Zor, as IS reinforcement from Iraq battled through the Syrian government defense lines.