The defeat of Raqqa, Islamic State’s self-declared capital, means the end of the caliphate is in sight, said U.S. President Donald Trump. The president also said this means the U.S. will “transition to a new phase” in its involvement in the Syrian war.
“The defeat of ISIS in Raqqah represents a critical breakthrough in our worldwide campaign to defeat ISIS and its wicked ideology,” the president said in a statement released October 21, 2017. “With the liberation of ISIS’s capital and the vast majority of its territory, the end of the ISIS caliphate is in sight.
“We will soon transition into a new phase in which we will support local security forces, de-escalate violence across Syria, and advance the conditions for lasting peace, so that the terrorists cannot return to threaten our collective security again.”
Earlier in the week, Trump said the defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria was made possible through a “change in the rules of engagement,” something he said he promised during his campaign and instituted after becoming president.
“As a result, ISIS strongholds in Mosul and Raqqah have fallen,” Trump said. “We have made, alongside our coalition partners, more progress against these evil terrorists in the past several months than in the past several years.”
Earlier in the week, Trump claimed credit for the defeat of ISIS, saying it hadn’t happened previously because “you didn’t have Trump as your President.”
However, the terrorist group still maintains pockets of control in Syria and Iraq that are proving to be very deadly. In Mosul, which was liberated by coalition forces in July 2017, an ISIS cell invaded the city October 20, through one of the numerous islands located in the Tigris River which runs through the center of the city. Members of the cell broke into a home and slaughtered a mother and her two children. The family was targeted for their membership in a Sunni tribal organization involved in fighting against ISIS.
Mosul, the third largest city in Iraq, was taken over by Islamic State in June 2014.