ISIS leaders fleeing Raqqa under SDF-coalition pressure

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Islamic State militants. File photo

ARA News

The US-led coalition against the Islamic State (ISIS) jihadists said there are signs that ISIS leaders are fleeing their de facto capital of Raqqain northeastern Syria, as the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are continuing their advances north and east of Raqqa.

“We’re now seeing signs that ISIS fighters, its leaders in Raqqa, are beginning to feel the pressure. Specifically, they’re becoming increasingly paranoid,” said Colonel John Dorrian, Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman.

“They’ve increased population control measures in Raqqa by seeking to remove or destroy televisions, searching houses for mobile phones and satellite dishes in order to maintain control of news and access to information about their losses,” he added.

In the meantime, the Syrian Democratic Forces continue their advance against ISIS along two axes north and east of Raqqa.

“Our SDF partners on the ground have liberated more than 800 square kilometers and more than 100 villages since they began reclaiming and clearing the land to the east of Raqqa on February 4th,” Colonel John Dorrian said.

“These are not the actions of an enemy who feel they’re winning, and that’s because they’re not. We’re seeing reflections of pessimism among mid-level commanders and this world view is spreading to the rank-and-file fighters,” he added.

Moreover, ISIS is reportedly executing it own militant fighters that are trying to abandon the fight for Raqqa.

“We’re also commonly seeing reports of ISIS arresting and executing their fighters who try to abandon the fight or are suspected of collaborating with forces trying to liberate areas that ISIS controls,” the American colonel said.

“We’re hearing typical reports that ISIS leaders understand their fate in Raqqa and they’re moving their own families out of Raqqa and into towns and villages in the countryside, even as they detain civilians who attempt to do the same,” Dorrian concluded.

The SDF’s Operations Room Wrath of Euphrates command announced on Thursday that they have liberated a total area of 664 km2 in the Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor regions in the past 24 hours, killing over 49 ISIS members.

The command added that 37 villages and 102 hamlets have been liberated in that area.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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