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As Syrian Democratic Forces close in on Raqqa, some Islamic State fighters leave the city

Ain Issa: Some foreign Islamic State group fighters have left the one-time jihadist bastion of Raqqa in Syria under a deal as the city's capture nears, a local official said on Sunday.

"A portion of the foreigners have left," said Omar Alloush, a senior member of the Raqqa Civil Council, when asked about a deal announced Saturday for IS jihadists to evacuate Raqa.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

He could not confirm how many fighters had left the city on Saturday, or where they had gone. "They took civilians as human shields and left," he added.

On Saturday, Allouch said that a deal had been reached for foreign and Syrian IS fighters to leave Raqqa.

Earlier, the US-led coalition backing the assault on the city said a convoy would leave Raqa but specifically ruled out the exit of foreign IS fighters.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, has been battling since June to capture Raqqa.

They hold around 90 percent of the city, but have struggled to take remaining IS positions over fears of large numbers of civilians being held as human shields.

Raqqa was once the de facto Syrian capital of the Islamic State group's self-styled "caliphate" stradding Syria and Iraq.

Its loss would be the latest in a string of blows to the group, which has ceded large swathes of territory including Iraq's second city Mosul.

Updated Date: Oct 15, 2017 15:22 PM

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