Raqqa to be cleaned from Islamic State during the next few hours

FILE PHOTO:Damaged buildings are pictured during the fighting with Islamic State's fighters in the old city of Raqqa, Syria, August 19, 2017. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra/File Photo

The Islamic State (IS, ISIS/ISIL) group and U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF*) militant groups reached an agreement during the past few days to evacuate Islamic State fighters through busses to eastern Deir Ezzor province.

Sources from Raqqa civil council, who supervised the agreement in coordination with local characters, suggested that Islamic State will evacuate the city during the next few hours.

* The Syrian Democratic Forces commonly abbreviated as SDF or QSD, are a multi-ethnic and multi-religious alliance of predominantly Kurdish but also Arab and Assyrian/Syriac militias, as well as some smaller Turkmen, Armenian, Circassian and Chechen groups/participation in the Syrian Civil War.

The SDF is mostly composed of, and militarily led by, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a mostly Kurdish militia.

According to the Pentagon, Kurds made up 40% of the SDF and Arabs 60% in March 2017, although other sources estimate the Arab components of the SDF to be at a significantly lower number.

Founded in October 2015, the SDF states its mission as fighting to create a secular, democratic and federal Syria, along the lines of the Rojava Revolution in northern Syria. The updated December 2016 constitution of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria names the SDF as its official defence force.

The primary opponents of the SDF and their allies are the Salafist and Islamic fundamentalist groups involved in the civil war, in particular the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Turkey-backed Syrian opposition groups, al-Qaeda affiliates, and their allies.

The SDF has focused primarily on ISIL, successfully driving them from important strategic areas, such as Al-Hawl, Shaddadi, Tishrin Dam, Manbij, al-Tabqah, Tabqa Dam, and Baath Dam.