On December 28, local sources revealed to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) that helicopters of the US-led coalition evacuated commanders of ISIS from several positions in Deir Ezzor governorate and transferred them to its bases in al-Hasakah governorate on December 27. The SANA didn’t provide any further details regarding the supposed evacuation operation.
The SANA also revealed that the US-led coalition evacuated 47 commander of ISIS earlier in December. The commanders were moved to a US base near the al-Sad camp south of the city of al-Hasakah, according to SANA.
This was not the first time when the media reported that the US-led coalition is evacuating ISIS commanders. The Russian state-run media outlet Sputnik said on September 7, that US helicopters have evacuated over 20 ISIS field commanders from Deir Ezzor to “safer regions”.
Later on November 7, the Russian state-run media accused the United States of evacuating ISIS commanders from the city of Mayadin before it was liberated by the Syrian Army in October.
Such claims were not limited to the pro-Damascus government media outlets. The pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) released several reports in 2017 claiming that the US evacuated dozens of ISIS commanders and some of its spies that had infiltrated ISIS.
Many Syrian pro-government activists argue that US-led coalition is planning to re-use these experienced commanders later against the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). The Russian center for reconciliation of the warring parties in Syria even accused the US-led coalition of training former members of ISIS in refugee camps in al-Hasakah governorate on December 16.