A civil council established by Kurdish and Arab allies of the U.S.-led coalition, which is likely to administer Syria's Raqqa city after it is freed from Islamic State, has pardoned 83 of the terror group's low-ranking militants with the hope to promote stability, according to reports.
Islamic State, also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL or Daesh, has been operating from Raqqa for the past three years, but is now losing ground as the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces close in on the group. IS could be defeated within months, it is believed.
"We would never release senior Daesh officials or anyone who has blood on their hands," Omar Aloush, a senior member of the Raqqa Civil Council, told Reuters. "We are giving these men a second chance."
The council member added that the former IS members, some of whom had surrendered, would be integrated into society and given a chance to attend schools.
"There were no opportunities before they arrived," a 17-year-old IS member, Kays al-Hadi, was quoted as saying, as he explained why he joined the terror group.
"I had no choice but to cooperate. They paid me $115 a month," said Abdel Rahman Kalas, 43, who worked in the IS department that imposed taxes on Raqqa citizens.
Meanwhile, IS appears to be desperate to defend its territory and has increased its use of suicide bombers and roadblocks in Raqqa.
On Saturday, two IS car bombs targeted SDF headquarters in the Jazara and AL-Idkhar districts, according to the terror outfit's self-described news agency, Amaq.
An investigative report on displacement and emigration of Christians in Syria and Iraq recently estimated that at least 50 percent and up to 80 percent of the Christians have fled the two countries since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011.
The number of Christians in Iraq has reduced from "well over 300,000" in 2014 to 200,000-250,000 now, and many of those who remain in the country are displaced internally, said the report titled, "Understanding recent movements of Christians from Syria and Iraq to other countries across the Middle East and Europe."
The U.S. House of Representatives recently unanimously passed bipartisan legislation that would authorize U.S. government funds to be given to relief groups directly providing assistance to displaced Iraqi and Syrian Christians.