On Tuesday, the four-month battle for Raqqa City concluded, ending the brutal rule of Daesh that lasted since late-2013.
A particularly notable and controversial hallmark of the final chapter of the battle was a deal that oversaw the transfer of between 100 and 275 militants from Raqqa towards the areas still under control of the group in Deir ez-Zour.
Rumours of an evacuation deal have floated ever since it became clear that Daesh would be losing Raqqa. Over the past few months, numerous reports emerged of militants trying to negotiate a way out. A particularly notable instance was when a Daesh militant from Britain contacted the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) correspondent in Raqqa asking for help.
This particular agreement, however, appears to have been negotiated by the Arab tribes fighting alongside the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and on behalf of the local militants, not foreign. Indeed, reports of the evacuations itself suggest that nearly all militants who left the city were locals. Furthermore, the evacuation agreement reportedly caused tensions between local and foreign militants, with the latter threatening the former if they tried to leave.
The agreement highlights the acute divisions between the local and foreign militants. Foreign militants have often been considered more hard-line than their local, more pragmatic counterparts.
The fact that Daesh often paid foreign militants more and provided them with added benefits further helped fuel resentment. Thus, the repeated instances of foreign and local militants clashing in Iraq and Syria should come as no surprise. Neither should the willingness of the local militants to abandon their foreign counterparts to their fate in Raqqa.