Islamic State fighters surrounded during the key battle for Manbij, Syria, last week agreed to surrender their weapons to U.S.-backed Syrian forces in return for safe passage out of the embattled city, a senior defense official said Tuesday. It was the first such agreement with the terror group.
The exhausted and demoralized militants were using civilians as human shields, which is why the U.S.-backed fighters agreed to let them flee Manbij after three months of intense fighting and near constant aerial bombardment by the U.S.-led coalition.
The U.S. official, who was not authorized to discuss battle details, said the Islamic State fighters surrendered after being surrounded by the Syrian Democratic Forces, fighters recruited and trained by the U.S.-led coalition.
The official said the agreement to let the Islamic State militants escape likely saved hundreds of civilians held by the fanatical fighters, even though it allowed some Islamic State militants to escape.
The militants turned their weapons over to Syrian Democratic Forces before leaving Manbij, the official said.
The enemy convoy of 100 to 200 fighters left the city last Friday under the watch of coalition drones to ensure that the militants did not regroup and try to return to the city. READ MORE OF THIS STORY
SOURCES: NewsNow/ USA Today