The U.S. backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have said that they have ended the 5 years caliphate of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) in Syria.
SDF has defeated all the militants, who once held 88,000 sq. km. of land stretching across Syria and Iraq. The SDF has been on war footing for weeks to defeat ISIL in Baghouz in South Eastern Syria at the Iraqi border.
Atleast 6,000 Kurdish and 2,000 Arab SDF fighters have been killed in one of the longest war in the history of Syria. The SDF’s attempt to finish off ISIL were slowed by the car, motorbike and even bicycle suicide bombs. Women and children, mostly the families of fighters, poured out of the town in huge numbers, shouting ISIL slogans.
The Head of the SDF Media Office – Mustafa Bali tweeted, “Syrian Democratic Forces declare total elimination of so-called caliphate and 100% territorial defeat of ISIS. We deliver this victory to our martyrs’ families and injured fighters, without their sacrifice this victory was not done. We congratulate the world with the elimination of the so-called Caliphate.”
The White House Press Secretary – Sarah Sanders said, “Territorial caliphate has been eliminated in Syria.”
For the records, the ISIL began as an offshoot of al-Qaeda in Iraq, which later became known as the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) in 2006. The movement, led by key al-Qaeda figures, played a major role in driving the conflict that followed the US invasion in 2003.
During this period, ISI carried out deadly attacks in the Baghdad, targeting Western-allied tribal leaders and U.S. Army Posts. In 2010, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was named the ISI Chief. 2 years later, he ordered ISI affiliates to set up an offshoot in Syria. Members of that offshoot, first known as Jabhat al-Nusra, were then integrated into ISIL after a number of defections.
ISIL quickly started expanding its base over war-torn areas in Syria and Iraq, making it easy for the group to gain both influence and military power. Meanwhile, in Raqqa, ISIL started work on weakening the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which opposed forces loyal to Syrian President – Bashar al-Assad.
It once ruled over 8 million people, and generated billions of dollars from oil, extortion, robbery and kidnapping.