ISIS Defeated, Declaring Total Victory in Syria

photo from google images

photo from google images

Jocelyn Reeder, Editor-in-Chief

The U.S, Kurdish, and Arab soldiers in Syria declared victory over Islamic State on Saturday, March 16th. “Syrian Democratic Forces declare total elimination of so-called caliphate and 100% territorial defeat of ISIS. On this unique day, we commemorate thousands of martyrs whose efforts made the victory possible,” tweeted Mustafa Bali, head of the SDF press office.

In a paper statement, issued at a formal ceremony to mark ISIS’s defeat, The Syrian Democratic Forces reported, “We had lost 11,000 forces, leaders, and fighters battling the militant group.” The SDF did vow to fight against any elements of ISIS sleeper cells, “which still pose a great danger on our region and the whole world.”

ISIS controlled a huge stretch of territory stretching from western Syria to the outskirts of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. The SDF launched the last assault on the ISIS enclave in early February. For weeks, the U.S led airstrikes to destroy parts of the town while fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces pushed forward on the ground. The final battle played out on a hillside near Baghouz. On Saturday morning, inside what was the group’s final enclave, all that remained was a junkyard of wrecked cars, tattered tents, ditches, and dead bodies.

The capture of Baghouz comes nearly three months after US President Donald Trump surprised America’s allies and the SDF forces on the ground, by declaring that ISIS had been defeated in Syria. He also announced that U.S. troops would be quickly withdrawn from the country. The US commander leading the war on ISIS said in February that he disagreed with Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria, saying the terror group was far from defeated.

ISIS may have been taken out of Syria but the group is currently regrouping in territories of northern Iraq, Nigeria, Libya, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Afghanistan, and the Philippines. Lina Khatib, the head of the Middle East and North Africa programme at Chatham House, a UK-based think tank for international affairs, stated ,”ISIS will revert to its insurgent roots as it moves underground, using the territorial loss as a call to arms among its network of supporters. We need a long-term strategy, a 10-year strategy,  in order to prevent an enabling environment that could lead to their re-emergence.”