UPDATED 9:30 AM PT – Sat. March 23, 2019
The Islamic State faces “complete territorial defeat,” as the U.S. backed Syrian Democratic Forces liberate Baghouz, marking the defeat of the terror group’s last stronghold in the country.
The SDF flag was spotted waving over the region Saturday. In a statement, coalition forces confirmed the end of the terror group’s self-declared caliphate in Syria, which once spanned a third of the country and of neighboring Iraq.
This comes after weeks of intense fighting along the Syrian border. The coalition faced fierce resistance from the militants, who dug a network of tunnels in the city and used civilians as human shields.
Some ISIS fighters still hold out in Syria’s remote central desert, and elsewhere in Iraqi cities they have slipped into the shadows, reportedly staging sudden shootings or kidnappings.
An SDF spokesperson said operations are still underway to drive ISIS fighters out of nearby caves. Though the defeat of Islamic state at Baghouz ends the terror group’s hold over Syria, experts said ISIS still remains a threat.
The group is still prominent in the Philippines, Afghanistan, and parts of Africa. Still, the fall of Baghouz is a major milestone in a four-year fight against the Jihadist group, waged by numerous local and global forces.