Thu, 20 Sep 2018

Syrian Government declares victory over terror group, ISIS

By Sheetal Sukhija, Bahrain News
10 Nov 2017, 07:40 GMT+10

DAMASCUS, Syria - Syria has declared victory over ISIS, ending the era of terror, after militants withdrew from their last stronghold in the country. 

On Thursday, Islamic State militants withdrew from their last stronghold in the country, which was a strategic town near the border with Iraq.

The declaration by the government came after a government offensive effectively left the extremist group's fighters dispersed in villages and small towns over months.

After intense battles that have lasted months, the Syrian military declared the town liberated that killed a large number of militants, including leaders. 

According to the country’s military, they are still chasing other ISIS militants in different directions in the desert.

Making the announcement, Army spokesman Gen. Ali Mayhoub said in a televised statement, “The liberation of Boukamal is of great importance because it is a declaration of the fall of this group's project in the region generally and the collapse of its supporters' illusions to divide it, control large parts of the Syria-Iraq borders and secure supply routes between the two countries.”

After entering the town late on Wednesday, Syrian pro-government media said Syrian troops had clashed with remnants of ISIS militants in the town.

On Thursday, they reported the town clear of ISIS fighters.

Pro-Syrian media then reported the town was liberated. 

Commenting on the victory, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government forces and allied troops, including Iraqi forces who linked from across the border, are combing through Boukamal after ISIS militants withdrew.

With the collapse of ISIS in Boukamal, now, the militant group now has no major territorial control in Syria and Iraq.

The group is believed to have dispersed in the desert west and east of the Euphrates River. 

According to estimates drawn out by U.S. officials, there were between 2,500 and 3,500 ISIS militants around Boukamal.

Officials said that leading members of the group were also believed to have taken refuge in the town. 

The group has a small presence near the capital Damascus.

For months now, ISIS has continued to suffer consecutive defeats at the hands of separate but simultaneous offensives in Iraq and Syria by the Russian-backed Syrian forces and allied militias as well as U.S.-backed Iraqi and Syrian fighters.

However, the terrorist group has said through its media apparatus that it has remained active and its fighters are likely to keep up their insurgency from desert areas.

Earlier Iraqi forces seized Qaim, the town across the border last weekend.

It has also controlled a strategic crossing between the two countries.

According to a senior Iraqi official, an agreement was struck on Tuesday, to send Iraqi paramilitaries to Syria to take part in the Boukamal operation.

The official added that the Syrians were to supply them with weapons and gear. 

The spokesman for the Popular Mobilization Forces said that his forces will participate in the operation and will head north to protect the borders and secure the road from Iran to Lebanon.

However, experts have noted that it is still not clear if the government seizure of the town means the end of the race for control of territory previously held by ISIS.

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