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U.S.-led forces transfer IS militants from Raqqa to Deir al-Zour: media

Dozens of the Islamic State (IS) militants are being transferred under the protection of the U.S.-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) from the northern city of Raqqa towards Deir al-Zour province in eastern Syria, state news agency SANA reported Saturday.

Citing activists, SANA said the U.S.-led coalition's warplanes are flying over Raqqa, the de facto capital of IS, without conducting airstrikes over the past two days.

SANA said the United States and the SDF had struck an agreement with IS for their evacuation from Raqqa to Deir al-Zour, where the Syrian government forces are fighting the IS militants.

"This U.S.-Daesh agreement is not the first, as several similar agreements have preceded this one in the city of Tabqa, Mansura and Karama in the countryside of Raqqa, under which IS militants were transferred to areas the Syrian army is fighting the terror group," SANA said, suggesting that the United States is supporting the IS.

The state news agency said the agreement sparks questions about the goal of the United States and the SDF.

It said that the United States had evacuated tens of IS leaders from Deir al-Zour before the Syrian army reached their areas.

It said the new agreement came days after the Russian defense ministry accused the U.S. forces in the Tanf area of lending a blind eye, while around 400 terrorists crossed the area where the U.S. forces were stationed.

SANA also reminded of the U.S. attack on Syrian military positions in the Tharda mountain last year, during which 90 Syrian soldiers were killed, and the IS managed to take over the area in the countryside of Deir al-Zour.

"All of these facts are pieces of evidence that the United States considered and still considers terrorism, whether IS or any other group, as a paper it manipulates to achieve its schemes to target Syria," SANA said.

Earlier in the day, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said foreign IS fighters were still inside Raqqa, while the local militants of the terror-designated group were evacuated out of the city.

What hindered the transfer or surrender of the foreign militants is the opposition of the Western countries, mainly the United States and France, according to the Observatory.

The coalition said earlier that 100 IS militants had left Raqqa.

IS militants declared Raqqa as their capital in 2014, after announcing their self-styled caliphate.

Tens of civilians have died during the intense battles as well as in the airstrikes of the U.S.-led anti-terror coalition.

On Sept. 7, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said as many as 978 civilians had been killed in three months by the U.S.-led airstrike and the shelling on Raqqa.

[Source: Xinhua, Damascus, 14Oct17]

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