The Latest on the battle against the Islamic State group in Syria (all times local):
A Kurdish commander has formally announced the “physical defeat” of the Islamic State group and appealed for continued assistance until the full eradication of the extremist group.
General Mazloum Kobani, the commander-in-chief of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, says his forces have destroyed the group’s so-called caliphate after liberating their last stronghold in the village of Baghouz.
The SDF has been Washington’s partner on the ground in Syria, spearheading the fight against the Islamic State group for the past five years.
“We are proud of what we have accomplished,” Kobani said at a press conference in eastern Syria, citing the sacrifices and bravery of SDF fighters.
Kobani spoke Saturday few hours after the group announced the full liberation of Baghouz from IS militants after a grueling weeks-long battle.
U.S.-backed forces have declared military victory over the Islamic State group in Syria after liberating the last pocket of territory held by the militants, marking the end of a brutal self-styled caliphate the group carved out in large parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014.
After weeks of heavy fighting, the tent camp where the militants had made their final stand in the village of Baghouz was, by Saturday, bombed to shreds. A field pitted with abandoned trenches and bomb craters, and littered with scorched tents and the twisted metal carcasses of vehicles, was all that remained. Half buried in the dirt was a tattered shred of IS’s notorious black flag, while a giant yellow flag belonging to the Syrian Democratic Forces fluttered atop a shell-pocked building.
“Baghouz is free and the military victory against Daesh has been achieved,” tweeted Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led SDF, referring to IS by its Arabic acronym.