SDF extends amnesty to ISIS fighters

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A Kurdish female fighter (L) and ISIS militant (R). Photo: Jinda Ahmed/ARA News

ARA News

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in a statement extended their amnesty offer for ISIS fighters in Raqqa until the end of May.

“To all the militants affiliated to the ISIS and various armed groups in the city of Raqqa and its countryside. On 15 May 2017, the Syrian Democratic Forces issued an announcement providing protection to those who surrender with their weapons, whatever their position and mission is, to surrender within ten days,” the SDF said.

“Based on the demands of honorable people and in response to the decisions of the [Raqqa] Civil Council, and calls from community activities in the province and its countryside, the SDF’s Euphrates Wrath operations room decided to extend the period to the end of this month, May 31, 2017, in order to prevent bloodshed and save lives,” the Kurdish-led SDF said.

According to the US-backed SDF, the amnesty is aimed at protecting the social fabric in Raqqa province, by providing protection to those who have been forced to join ISIS ranks.

“We use this appeal to repeat our call to all the people of Raqqa province and the un-liberated areas, to stay away from ISIS headquarters for their safety,” the SDF concluded.

In an interview with ARA News, Nicholas A. Heras, Bacevich Fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), said that the SDF prefers to avoid urban combat in Raqqa city.

“The SDF would prefer to avoid vicious urban combat in Raqqa. By offering an amnesty before the battle for Raqqa begins, the SDF is seeking to reduce the number of active ISIS combatants in the city, which would degrade ISIS’ ability to defend all the areas of the city,” Heras told ARA News.

“As much as possible, the SDF wants local Syrian fighters that may have supported ISIS for material reasons, not for ideological reasons, to get out of the fight,” he concluded.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News

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