BAGHOUZ, Syria — A Kurdish commander has formally announced the “physical defeat” of the Islamic State group and appealed for continued assistance until the full eradication of the extremist group.
General Mazloum Kobani, the commander-in-chief of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, says his forces have destroyed the group’s so-called caliphate after liberating their last stronghold in the village of Baghouz.
A senior U.S. diplomat says the territorial defeat of the Islamic State group is a “critical milestone” that delivers a crushing and strategic blow to the extremist group.
William Roebuck, the State Department’s official in charge of Syria, adds, however, that the campaign against IS is not over, saying the group remains a significant threat in the region.
“We still have much work to do to achieve an enduring defeat of IS,” Roebuck said Saturday at a ceremony in eastern Syria’s al-Omar oil field base, celebrating victory over the group in Baghouz, IS’ last stronghold in Syria.
Roebuck promised continued support to America’s local partners in Syria to continue fighting IS.
The SDF has been Washington’s partner on the ground in Syria, spearheading the fight against the Islamic State group for the past five years.
“We are proud of what we have accomplished,” Kobani said at a press conference in eastern Syria, citing the sacrifices and bravery of SDF fighters.
It marks the end of a brutal self-styled caliphate IS carved out in large parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014.
After weeks of heavy fighting, the tent camp where the militants had made their final stand in the village of Baghouz was, by Saturday, bombed to shreds. A field pitted with abandoned trenches and bomb craters, and littered with scorched tents and the twisted metal carcasses of vehicles, was all that remained. Half buried in the dirt was a tattered shred of IS’s notorious black flag, while a giant yellow flag belonging to the Syrian Democratic Forces fluttered atop a shell-pocked building.
“Baghouz is free and the military victory against Daesh has been achieved,” tweeted Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led SDF, referring to IS by its Arabic acronym.
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. #SDFDefeatedISIS
— Mustafa Bali (@mustefabali) March 23, 2019