Islamic State group defeated as final territory lost, US-backed forces say

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International desk: The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) says the Islamic State’s five-year “caliphate” is over after the militants were defeated in Syria.

SDF fighters have been raising victory flags in Baghuz, the last stronghold of the jihadist group.

At its height, IS controlled 88,000 sq km (34,000 sq miles) of land stretching across Syria and Iraq.

But despite the loss of of territory the group is still seen as a major global security threat.

IS retains a presence in the region and has affiliates in several other countries such as Nigeria, Yemen, Afghanistan and the Philippines.

How did the final battle unfold?

The Kurdish-led SDF alliance began its final assault on IS at the start of March, with the remaining militants holed up in the village of Baghuz in eastern Syria.

The alliance was forced to slow its offensive after it emerged that a large number of civilians were also there, sheltering in buildings, tents and tunnels.

Thousands of women and children, foreign nationals among them, fled the fighting and severe shortages to make their way to SDF-run camps for displaced persons.

Many IS fighters have also abandoned Baghuz, but those who stayed put up fierce resistance, deploying suicide bombers and car bombs.

“Syrian Democratic Forces declare total elimination of so-called caliphate and 100% territorial defeat of Isis [the IS group],” Mustafa Bali, the head of the SDF media office, tweeted.

Thousands of women and children, foreign nationals among them, fled the fighting and severe shortages to make their way to SDF-run camps for displaced persons.

Many IS fighters have also abandoned Baghuz, but those who stayed put up fierce resistance, deploying suicide bombers and car bombs.

“Syrian Democratic Forces declare total elimination of so-called caliphate and 100% territorial defeat of Isis [the IS group],” Mustafa Bali, the head of the SDF media office, tweeted.

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