Turkey condemns ‘escape’ of Raqa jihadists

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ANKARA: Turkey on Wednesday condemned as “an extremely grave revelation” the potential escape of hundreds of jihadists from the Syrian city of Raqa, saying it underscored the perils of Washington’s alliance with Kurdish fighters. The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said over 3,000 civilians had left Raqa on October 14 as part of a deal negotiated between officials from the provisional Raqa Civil Council and Syrian IS fighters. The US-led coalition later acknowledged that of these up to 300 were seen as “potential” IS fighters, following a BBC report that hundreds of jihadists, including foreigners, had left as part of the deal. IS lost control of Raqa on October 17 after months of fighting against the SDF, a Kurdish-dominated force regarded with disdain by Turkey. The Turkish foreign ministry described the information as an “extremely grave and eye-opening revelation,” accusing the SDF of negotiating with IS to evacuate fighters. The SDF is dominated by the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara views as a “terror” group linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) waging an insurgency inside Turkey.

AFP

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