Civil Council of Raqqa, a Syrian group, backed by the United States, has granted amnesty to 96 alleged members of the Islamic State. The 96 were released on Wednesday in a move the council terms as strategic and crucial in dissuading low ranking members from pledging allegiance to the extremist group.
The released were all men of different ages and were only released after a comprehensive investigation, and a background check was conducted to affirm that they held no posts or were just allied to ISIS and not actively involved in the violent activities of the group. While the pardon was met with mixed reactions, the council maintained that the freed members were only locals who had not engaged in crime and militant activities and only swore allegiance as a survival option.
In a detailed statement before the release, Ibrahim al-Issa, head of the Civil Council of Raqqa said, “We made that decision to encourage trust between our community and [help] return tolerance among its groups.” The move was welcomed by tribal elders and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and viewed as a first step towards retaking and rebuilding Raqqa and Syria as a whole.