Then Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) spokesman Talal Silo speaks during a press conference in Hukoumiya village in Raqqa, Syria June 6, 2017. REUTERS/Rodi Said
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A high-level defector from Kurdish-led forces that captured the Syrian city of Raqqa from Daesh (ISIS) has recanted his account of the city's fall, saying thousands of Daesh fighters – many more than first reported – left under a secret, U.S.-approved deal.Talal Silo, a former commander in the Syrian Democratic Forces, said the SDF arranged to bus all remaining Daesh militants out of Raqqa even though it said at the time it was battling diehard foreign jihadists in the city.U.S. officials described Silo's comments as "false and contrived" but a security official in Turkey, where Silo defected three weeks ago, gave a similar account of Daesh's defeat in its Syrian stronghold. However, a Turkish security official said that many more Daesh personnel left Raqqa than was acknowledged.Ankara, a NATO ally of Washington's and a member of the U.S.-led coalition, has disagreed sharply with the United States over its support for the Syrian Kurdish YPG fighters who spearheaded the fight against Daesh in Raqqa.
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