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A diplomatic and military source within Syria is reporting that the United States Air Force evacuated 20 ISIS commanders from Deir ez-Zor as Syrian forces liberated the city from terrorist control.

“Amid successful actions by Syrian government troops in the eastern part of Syria in late August, a number of field [Daesh] commanders backed by US special services, had been promptly evacuated from Deir ez-Zor to safer regions in order to use their experience in other directions,” the source reported to Sputnik.

The press office of the Combined Joint Task Force of Operation Inherent Resolve, which is the Joint Task Force established by the US-led international coalition against the Islamic State, set up by the US Central Command to coordinate military efforts against ISIS, and is composed of US military forces and personnel from over 30 countries with a stated mission to “degrade and destroy” ISIS, called the allegations “false.”

The initial extraction of ISIS commanders reportedly took place on August 26, with a “United States Air Force helicopter” airlifting two ISIS field commanders of “European origin,” along with members of their families, from an area northwest of Deir ez-Zor during the night, according to information relayed by the source.

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According to the data provided by the military and diplomatic source, the U.S. then airlifted another 20 ISIS commanders and top militant fighters from an area southwest of Deir ez-Zor.

“Militants who lost their commanders due to the Americans, usually tend to cease organized actions, leave their positions, join other [Daesh terrorist] units or one by one flee. This eventually contributes to the success of the offensive by the Syrian government troops in eastern Syria,” the source said.

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The airlift of ISIS commanders allegedly happened as Syrian Arab Army forces, backed by Russian support, were in the process of breaking a three-year ISIS siege of Deir ez-Zor.

According to the Russian Ministry of Defense (MOD), Russian strikes on ISIS positions allowed the Syrian military to break the 3-year siege of Deir ez-Zor. The Russian bombardment, which was simultaneously undertaken by air and sea, destroyed fortified ISIS positions – including terrorist ammunition depots underground tunnels, and artillery positions near the city of Deir ez-Zor.

The victory over ISIS forces at Deir ez-Zor was the most crucial strategic victory by the Syrian army during the 6-year war, according to the Russian MOD.

This is not the first time the United States has reportedly airlifted ISIS commanders from a city that is about to be liberated from the terrorist group, as similar activities were reported by an Iraqi commander when the central Iraqi city of Ramadi, which was under ISIS control, was being liberated in late 2015.

“The delay in operations to liberate Ramadi and Fallujah cities in al-Anbar province is the result of the US interference,” the commander of volunteer forces (Hashd al-Shaabi) reported at the time.

“It seems that the US intends to evacuate the ISIL terrorist group’s infamous ringleaders secretly (with helicopters) from Ramadi to unknown places,” he added, according to a report by the Iranian Fars News Agency.

ISIS fighters who had taken Ramadi were ex-Baathist Sunni terrorists, formerly loyal to Saddam Hussein, known as the Former Regime Loyalists, or the FRLs, according to The Intercept.

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“It is reasonable to surmise that the ex-Baathists flying the ISIS flag today are covertly working to undermine ISIS’s caliphate and eventually achieve their own political goals,” according to The Intercept’s reporting.

Interestingly, the U.S. has a history of evacuating top terrorist leaders, warlords and fighters it deems as useful from battlefields.

Just after the invasion of Afghanistan, in November 2001, the U.S. allowed thousands of top Taliban commanders and members of Al-Qaeda—as well as and their Pakistani advisers—to be airlifted out of Kunduz in an operation that was eventually deemed the “airlift of evil.”

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Jay Syrmopoulos is a geopolitical analyst, freethinker, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs and holds a BA in International Relations. Jay's writing has been featured on both mainstream and independent media - and has been viewed tens of millions of times. You can follow him on Twitter @SirMetropolis and on Facebook at SirMetropolis.