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U.S.-backed forces defeat ISIS in its “capital”

BULENT KILIC I AFP
A member of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by US special forces, holds up their flag at the iconic Al-Naim square in Raqa on October 17, 2017. US-backed forces said they had taken full control of Raqa from the Islamic State group, defeating the last jihadist holdouts in the de facto Syrian capital of their now-shattered "caliphate". / AFP PHOTO / BULENT KILIC
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The liberation of Raqqa, Syria is a major blow to jihadists' plan to establish a caliphate

In what is seen as a decisive victory in the fight against ISIS, US-backed forces have defeated jihadists in Raqqa, Syria, in what was once the capital of their would-be caliphate.

The recapture of Raqqa was met with jubilation after three years of repressive rule in which people were beheaded for offenses as minor as smoking, according to a New York Times report.

United States military forces did not go as far as to declare victory, however, saying “more than 90 percent of Raqqa is in S.D.F. [Syrian Democratic Forces] control.” The S.D.F. is a coalition of U.S.-backed Arab and Kurdish fighters.

“Major military operations in Raqqa are finished but they are now clearing the city of sleeper cells — if they exist — and mines,” Talal Salo, spokesman for the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, CNN reported.

“The situation in Raqqa is under control and soon there will be an official statement declaring the liberation of the city,” he said.

The fall of Raqqa is seen as a major setback for ISIS, following the loss of their second major city in three months. ISIS was defeated in Mosul, Iraq in July.

Occupying territory was a key component of the Islamic State’s strategy. Without a literal “state” of their own ISIS is expected to have a harder time convincing recruits to sacrifice everything for their cause.

Matthew Spencer, a former Pentagon official during the Obama Administration, told Vox earlier this summer that losing Raqqa would be a major defeat for ISIS.

“When an enemy holds territory, it helps with recruiting, showing their real and perceived strengths, and provides a base of operations.”

 

 

 

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