Islamic State suffers '100% territorial defeat' in Syria

Kurdish forces declare they have cleared the final IS stronghold, but the terror group's threat remains

Islamic State fighters (file photo)
Islamic State fighters (file photo)

The Islamic State (IS) has lost its last foothold in Syria, bringing an end to its “Caliphate,” but not to the group’s ideology.

A spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) declared “the 100% territorial defeat” of IS. The jihadist group had once controlled vast swathes of Syria and Iraq – some 88,000 sq km but this had been whittled down over months of fighting and is now no longer.

But despite losing its territory, the group is still a major security threat, capable of mounting attacks worldwide.

The SDF had begun its final assault on the remaining IS militants defending the village of Baghuz in eastern Syria in early March, but the offensive was slowed by the large number of civilians sheltering there.

Thousands of women and children escaped the fighting and deprivation to SDF-run refugee camps. Many IS militants also fled Baghuz, but those who remained fought viciously, using car bombs and suicide bombers.

"On this unique day, we commemorate thousands of martyrs whose efforts made the victory possible," tweeted Mustafa Bali, the head of the SDF media office.

Despite the demise of its physical caliphate, IS remains a force to be reckoned with. Its enduring defeat is not assured. Speaking last month, the head of the US military's Central Command, Gen Joseph Votel, said that it was necessary to maintain "a vigilant offensive against the now largely dispersed and disaggregated [IS] that retains leaders, fighters, facilitators, resources and the profane ideology that fuels their efforts".

 

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