Syria: ISIS evacuate headquarters in Raqqa
As the battle for Raqqa approaches, the Islamic State (ISIS) continues transferring families of top commanders and evacuating its headquarters in the city to more stable areas under the group’s control, local sources reported on Thursday.
This comes as dozens of families escaped Raqqa heading to Hasakah province in northeastern Syria.
Last week, the Kurdish-Arab alliance of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced its readiness to storm the ISIS de facto capital of Raqqa, warning civilians to stay away from the group’s military and administrative headquarters.
The SDF includes the key Kurdish forces of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Syriac Military Council, the Arab tribal group of al-Sanadeed, al-Jazeera brigades, Jaish al-Thuwar group and Burkan al-Furat battalion.
Speaking to ARA News in Hasakah, Abu Abdullah, a displaced man from the city of Raqqa, said that the situation inside Raqqa is deteriorating, amid ongoing airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition and Russia.
“Senior militants of ISIS are transferring their families from Raqqa after receiving threats from the SDF to carry out an extensive military campaign against the group’s positions in the city,” he said.
“ISIS imposes conscription on men aged between 14-40 years,” Abdullah said.
Abu Abdullah added that the YPG’s checkpoints on the road between Raqqa and Hasakah have facilitated the movement of the displaced civilians towards Hasakah.
A pro-ISIS media source reported earlier that the Kurdish residents of Raqqa are accused of leaking information about the group to the Kurdish forces of the YPG –which is in conflict with ISIS terrorists in northern Syria.
The source added that the group has forced dozens of Kurdish families to move to the city of Palmyra.
Local activists reported that pro-ISIS Arab tribal figures in Raqqa justified the displacement of the Kurdish families by saying: “In light of the raging war against us from the crusader coalition (U.S.-led coalition forces) with allied Kurdish militias (in reference to YPG), we have no doubt about the involvement of many Kurdish families in communication with the Kurdish militias, which in turn communicate with the crusaders in their war on Islam and Muslims.”
“Expelling the Kurds from Raqqa is the best solution. This is the only way to protect Muslims of Raqqa from their apostate enemies,” a group of Arab tribal figures in Raqqa said in a statement.
A few months ago, ISIS has transferred 75 families of its top leaders from Mosul into Syria, according to local sources.
Since then, every threat to the group pushes it transfer families of senior terrorists to more stable ISIS-held areas in both Syria and Iraq.