Raqqa, the de facto capital of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and its so-called caliphate, is now free from the brutal grip of ISIS.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson congratulated the Syrian people and the Syrian Democratic Forces for liberating the city with support from the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, made up of 69 nations and four international organizations.
The Syrian Democratic Forces will turn the governance of Raqqa over to the Raqqa Civil Council, made up of Raqqawi representatives covering various aspects of the city and province’s administration.
“Our work is far from over, but the liberation of Raqqa is a critical milestone in the global fight against ISIS,” Tillerson said October 20. The United States and its allies “are making every effort to remove explosives left by ISIS and to get critical humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations.”
Since President Trump accelerated the campaign against ISIS, “millions of people have been liberated from ISIS’ brutal rule, and working with our partners on the ground we are setting the conditions to enable people to return home,” the secretary said.
Raqqa is a city in northern Syria on the Euphrates River. ISIS captured it in 2014 and turned its Paradise Square into a place of executions, forcing citizens to watch beheadings.
“ISIS’ loss of Raqqa does not mean our fight against ISIS is over.”
— Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
“ISIS’ cruelty and barbarity cannot be overstated. We witnessed ISIS deliberately and consistently using civilians as human shields and leaving behind mines to maim and kill children and other civilians seeking only to return to their homes or schools,” Tillerson said.
The Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS will press forward until all Syrians are freed “from ISIS’ brutality and we can ensure it can no longer export its terror around the world,” the secretary said.
At a Pentagon briefing October 19, Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said, “ISIS is on the run; it is losing credibility, resources and influence everywhere.”
ISIS now holds only a fraction of the swath of territory it seized in Syria and Iraq. Iraqi forces drove the extremists from Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, in July.
Now and in the near future people can start returning to their home countries to rebuild their communities.
More than 2 million of the Syrians and Iraqis who fled as the Islamic extremists swept across the region have already returned home to rebuild their lives.
Today, for example, a commerce route from Amman, Jordan, to Baghdad is open after three years of being impassable due to ISIS-related conflict. The route delivers $1 billion per month in goods and services.