The Raqqa Civilian Council, established by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), has pardoned 83 captured ISIS fighters, in what it said was a goodwill gesture designed to promote stability as the Kurdish-led SDF troops continue the fight to recapture the city from the radical group.
The council, which is expected to rule Raqqa once ISIS is eliminated in Raqqa, said on Saturday that the pardoned fighters “were low-ranking members and were not involved with violence.”
The youngest of the prisoners pardoned was 14 years old, according to Reuters.They were transported to the headquarters of the Raqqa City Council in the village of Ain Issa, north of Raqqa.
The amnesty coincided with the Eid al-Fitr holiday–marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
The Raqqa Civilian Council is expected to run post-ISIS Raqqa city. In April, Kurdish feminist Layla Mohammed was appointed as the co-head of the US-backed council, with Mahmoud Shawakh al-Busran as the Arab co-chair.
The council includes members of the Arab tribes, Turkmen, and Kurds.
Fight for Raqqa
Last week, the Syrian Democratic Forces captured al-Baitara district in Raqqa city after clashes with ISIS. The US-backed SDF troops earlier captured the districts of al-Mishlab, al-Sabahiya, al-Romaniya, and Sinaa in Raqqa.
This comes after the SDF launched a major operation to liberate the city of Raqqa from ISIS radicals.
Raqqa has been known as a de facto capital for the ISIS self-proclaimed Caliphate since the summer of 2014.
On June 6, the Syrian Democratic Forces announced the official start of the battle for Raqqa city.
The Kurdish-Arab-Christian alliance of SDF has been isolating Raqqa since November 2016, when the US-backed alliance launched the so-called Euphrates Wrath Operation.
During the first phase of Euphrates Wrath, which began on November 6, 2016, the SDF liberated roughly 560 km² in Northern Raqqa.
On 10 December, 2016, the SDF launched the second phase of the Euphrates Wrath, during which it captured over 2500 km² in Western Raqqa.
On 4 February, 2017, the Syrian Democratic Forces launched the third phase of the Euphrates Wrath Operation, and liberated dozens of villages in Eastern Raqqa from ISIS jihadists.
The campaign is ultimately aimed at liberating the city of Raqqa from ISIS extremists.
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