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EXCLUSIVE – The Greatest Escape: Daring anti-Isis squad rescue a British mother and her FIVE children from heart of Islamic State

  • Family whisked out of Raqqa in the ‘dead of night’ and taken to safety
  • Not the first time Liwa Thuwar al-Raqqa, which carried out the daring rescue, has smuggled people out of the dangerous ISIS-controlled city
  • Group has hit out at the West for ‘lack of support’ in trying to retake Raqqa

A British mother and her five children have escaped the Islamic State in a daring rescue operation organised by a brigade of Syrian fighters working inside Raqqa, the terror group’s headquarters.

The family were ferried out of the city in the dead of night and driven to a safe territory close to Turkish border, MailOnline can reveal.

Liwa Thuwar al-Raqqa (Raqqa Revolutionaries’ Brigades), the group who carried out the rescue, declined to name the woman, but there are at least two possibilities, both from Bradford and both of whom have fled with their families in the last year.


‘The woman was British and she had five children,’ a fighter for Liwa Thuwar al-Raqqa told MailOnline in an interview on Facebook.

The fighter said he had driven the family to an area controlled by the Free Syrian Army.

But this family is far from the only group Liwa Thuwar al-Raqqa, which has built up forces in the villages and countryside around Raqqa, have rescued: a relieved Frenchwoman was also taken to safety by the group in recent weeks, expressing her gratitude by appearing on YouTube.

The 25-year-old woman, who has a young boy, had been living in Raqqa under the twin terrors of ISIS and the Coalition bombings for one year before she was rescued.

‘In the last few weeks we have saved many people from Daesh [the local name for ISIS], including a number of foreign fighters,’ acknowledged the spokesman.

He said that the majority of the Thuwar al-Raqqa fighters were Syrian, but there were several British jihadis who made up their numbers.

And it seems likely they were behind the rescue of Abu Ali, 38, who crept into Syria under a fence in order to fight for ISIS, only to realise he made a grave mistake after being forced to watch a video of the terrorists burning his fellow countryman, pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh, to death.

He described how he made contact with the group over Whatsapp, and spent a tense evening waiting in a cafe in Raqqa before two motorcycles pulled up and shouted through the door: ‘The food’s ready, sorry we’re late.’

He was rushed through the streets of the city, and hidden in a house until he could be taken back to another hole in the fence in May last year.

Liwa Thuwar al-Raqqa are better placed than most to carry out these dangerous – and often successful – rescue attempts.

They were one of the last brigades to defend Raqqa against IS before Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s forces overran the city in 2013.

Since 2013 its fighters, many members of the Raqqa population, have opposed IS in the region outside the city and scored some successes.

The brigade later allied with the Al Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra, but has since forged alliances with a umbrella group of more moderate brigades under the banners of the Syrian Democratic Forces.

In recent weeks the Raqqa Revolutionaries’ Brigades have been able to mount a number of rescue operations involving Western families. It has also seen growing numbers of ISIS fighters defecting to Liwa Thuwar, including a single group of 35.

‘We now just want to free Raqqa from IS and save as many as we can,’ the Liwa Thuwar spokesman said.

But the group is frustrated. Last month the group’s commander Abu Issa told the Middle East al Monitor that the West had failed



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