End of caliphate marks milestone, but fight against jihadist group looks set to continue
'The self-styled Isis caliphate, which once stretched for thousands of miles and ruled over millions of people, has been declared defeated.
The end for the terrorist state came in the village of Baghouz, in Syria’s eastern Deir ez-Zor province, following a months-long final battle.
“Syrian Democratic Forces declare total elimination of so-called caliphate and 100 per cent territorial defeat of Isis,” said Mustafa Bali, spokesman of the US-backed group. Mr Bali added: “On this unique day, we commemorate thousands of martyrs whose efforts made the victory possible.”
Theresa May praised the “immense courage of the UK military and our allies” following the announcement.
“We will continue to do what is necessary to protect the British people, our Allies and partners from the threat Daesh poses,” the prime minister said.
French President Emmanuel Macron said that “a major danger to our country is now eliminated, yet the threat remains and the fight against terrorist groups must continue.”
Britain and France were junior partners in the US-led coalition that helped turn the tide against Isis when it joined the fight in 2014.
In a later statement, Donald Trump said Washington would “remain vigilant” until the group “is finally defeated wherever it operates”. To “all of the young people on the internet” who felt attracted by Isis’ propaganda, he said: “Think instead about having a great life.”
The last fight was one of the toughest yet. After years of steadily clawing back territory from Isis across northeast Syria, in September the SDF surrounded the last pocket of Isis control in an isolated string of villages along the eastern banks of the Euphrates river.
These hamlets became the last holdout for the group’s most hardened fighters and leaders. With nowhere else to run, many decided to fight to the bitter end, leading to massive casualties on both sides. The SDF said Saturday that it had lost 11,000 fighters over the course of the campaign.'
Read more: Isis caliphate defeated: Victory declared as Islamic State loses last of its territory