‘Total elimination’ of ISIS in Syria? US-backed forces confirm, Damascus calls it a bluff
Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) suffered “total elimination” and “a 100 percent territorial defeat,” SDF spokesperson Mustafa Bali announced on Saturday. The news came after Kurdish forces reported heavy fighting near Baghouz in northeastern Deir ez-Zor Province, along the Iraqi border.
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
Baghouz was regarded as the last remaining pocket of Islamic State resistance in Syria. The SDF, assisted by US airstrikes, spent the past few months closing in on the militants as its troops were clearing IS holdouts along the Euphrates Valley.
As reports of Baghouz being on the verge of complete liberation were coming in, US President Donald Trump rushed to boast of the US-led Coalition’s victories. Earlier this week, he showed reporters a map showcasing how IS-controlled territory has dramatically shrunk over the years, and said that the militants “are losers and barely breathing.”
....There is nothing to admire about them, they will always try to show a glimmer of vicious hope, but they are losers and barely breathing. Think about that before you destroy your lives and the lives of your family!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 22, 2019
On Wednesday, Trump even promised that IS will be “gone by tonight,” despite the SDF still reporting that it was waging battles that day.
Syria’s envoy to the UN, Bashar Jaafari, dismissed Trump’s jubilant language as a “bluff” and “untrustworthy.”
“ISIS is not over yet in Syria,” he said, adding that militants are still hiding in the Rukban refugee camp, located within the US-controlled area.Also on rt.com Time to celebrate? Trump say ISIS fully destroyed in Syria. US-backed militants disagree
Russia and Syria have tried to get the camp closed down and have the refuges evacuated. Attempts to do so were prevented by the US military, Moscow said. The UN, meanwhile, has sounded the alarm on the horrible “stone age” conditions that refugees face in Rukban.
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