>> Just hard many battled-hardened Islamic State militants were evacuated after being cornered in their Syrian capital? A high-level defector from the Kurdish-led forces now says the number is not hundreds but thousands. And they were allowed out of Raqqa in a secret deal approved by the US.>>
>> Talal Silo is a former commander in the Syrian Democratic Forces. He says they arranged to bust the remaining IS fighters out, even though the SDF insisted at the time it was battling die-hard jihadists in the city.>>
Now that he has defected to Turkey he says that was untrue, and that claims of a last-ditch battle were designed to keep journalists away while the secret evacuation took place. He says the deal was approved by a US official in the international coalition fighting Islamic State.>>
>> Reuters cannot independently verify the revised version of events. Silo gave the interview in the presence of security officers from Turkey, which opposes the SDF. But he denied the group's assertions that he'd been pressured to defect because his children live there. He warned that some fighters could have been smuggled across the border into Turkey.
>> US officials dismiss SIlo's comments as false and contrived.