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SDF Declares ISIS Defeated

SDF Declares ISIS Defeated

Saturday, 23 March, 2019 - 08:30
FILE PHOTO: Smoke rises from the last besieged neighborhood in the village of Baghouz, Deir Ezzor province, Syria, March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer
Asharq Al-Awsat
ISIS has been defeated at its final shred of territory of Baghouz in Syria, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said on Saturday, announcing the end of its rule that once spanned a third of Iraq and Syria.

The SDF declared the "total elimination of (the) so-called caliphate", Mustafa Bali, head of the SDF media office, wrote on Twitter.

"Baghouz has been liberated. The military victory against ISIS has been accomplished," he wrote.

The SDF has been battling to capture Baghouz at the Iraqi border for weeks.

"We renew our pledge to continue the war and to pursue their remnants until their complete elimination," he wrote.

Though the defeat of ISIS at Baghouz ends the group's territorial control in Syria and Iraq, it remains a threat.

Some of its militants still hold out in Syria's remote central desert and in Iraqi cities they have slipped into the shadows, staging sudden shootings or kidnappings and awaiting a chance to rise again.

The Pentagon has warned in a recent report that the absence of sustained counterterrorism pressure on ISIS would allow the extremists to reclaim some territorial control within months.

The United States believes the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is in Iraq.

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