Islamic State Loses Caliphate in Syria

Islamic State Loses Caliphate in Syria

For the past four years, US -led forces have waged a destructive campaign against the group.

Fighters with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) gather near the village of Baghouz in the countryside of the eastern Syrian province of Deir Ezzor on March 20, 2019.

President Donald Trump said Wednesday the last pocket of the Islamic State's land in Syria will be liberated by US-backed forces "by tonight".

"There is no truth (to the report of) the complete liberation of the village", the official said. Black smoke was rising from the village.

"The caliphate is gone as of tonight", Trump said in a speech at a factory in Lima, Ohio, where military tanks are assembled. The SDF has not yet announced a victory over IS.

"We don't know how many more women and children, if any, are still in Baghuz", Wendy Taeuber, the International Rescue Committee's Iraq and northeast Syria country director, said in a statement Thursday.

Trump told reporters on Wednesday: "I brought this out for you because, this is a map. everything in the red - this was on Election Night in 2016 - everything red is ISIS".

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In 2017, several months after taking office, The Washington Post reported that the Trump administration was far more aggressive toward ISIS than the previous administration and the impact that it had was significant.

On March 21, Kurdish forces said they were searching for ISIS fighters.

While an official announcement has not been made, bombs have stopped dropping, gunfire has ceased and the terror group's flags no long fly over the town of Baghouz.

Even once an official announcement is made, US defense officials caution that IS still has "tens of thousands" of fighters working either as part of sleeper cells or as part of an active, clandestine insurgency.

In all, upward of 30,000 civilians, mostly family members of IS fighters, have fled Baghuz since the offensive began, 5,000 in just the past week.

The US believes Iraq is the location of its leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, who stood at the pulpit of the great medieval mosque in Mosul in 2014 to declare himself caliph, sovereign over all Muslims.

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