Final military victory over Islamic State declared

Final military victory over Islamic State declared

US-backed forces in Syria have declared victory over the militant group known as the Islamic State (ISIS) after a key territorial defeat in the group's last holdout in Baghouz.

The White House said Friday that the Islamic State's territorial caliphate in Syria, where the terrorist group once controlled 8 million people, has been 100 percent wiped out.

He vowed to fight "until it is finally defeated wherever it operates". The SDF declared the "total elimination of (the) so-called caliphate", Mustafa Bali, head of the SDF media office, wrote on Twitter. On this unique day, we commemorate thousands of martyrs whose efforts made the victory possible.

From a military perspective at least, the United States can claim significant success in its strategy of working "by, with and through" local proxy forces, where a Kurdish militia in Syria and security forces in Iraq bore the brunt of the fighting - and dying.

US military officials have also warned that a President Trump's planned troop withdrawal - the shape of which remains unclear - has the potential to create a security vacuum within which the Islamic State could regroup.

2011 - After Syria's crisis begins, the group's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi sends operatives there to set up a Syrian subsidiary.

"The moment the USA leaves, if not before, they're going to be sandwiched between a hostile Turkey and a hostile Syrian government, with ISIL remnants doing what they can to exploit the chaos", Lund told Al Jazeera. Bureaucrats dealt with household bills and garbage collection. The group even minted its own coins.

A close-up of the map showed that Trump was displaying a depiction of the group's footprint at a high-point in 2014, not Election Day 2016, by which point the US -backed campaign was well underway.

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But he said he could not predict whether the fall of the physical territory would substantially increase or decrease the terror risk to the UK. "They took so much from all of us that I wonder if we'll ever feel truly free here".

But the footage shown by the SDF in recent weeks was of long lines of abject, surrendering fighters, sitting or squatting in a desolate landscape, their dreams dashed.

At the end, they were besieged in a tiny camp full of rusting vehicles and makeshift shelters, pinned against the Euphrates and overlooked by hills held by the SDF. Women and children looked dazed and exhausted, sometimes livid.

But some of those who fled Baghuz in the dying days of the caliphate, claimed they had been ordered to leave by Baghdadi. Some of them defiantly chanted Islamic State slogans and lobbed fistfuls of dirt at reporters.

The civilians face an uncertain future.

The US envoy to the coalition to defeat IS, William Roebuck, said the news was a "critical milestone", but added that IS remains a threat "in the region, to the United States and our allies".

The final battle played out on a hillside near Baghouz. Cars lie abandoned and suitcases have been left in the dust. "The fight against terrorist groups must continue". But they have also drawn tougher scrutiny on the impact of American air power than ever before.

At the start of 2014, the jihadists seized Fallujah in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria at the turn of the year, before taking Mosul and Tikrit in June and overrunning the border with Syria.

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