US on the End of the Caliphate
On October 20, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced the liberation of Raqqa, Syria from the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh. ISIS seized Raqqa in early 2014 and declared it the capital of their caliphate. It was also a central hub for planning overseas terrorist attacks. The fight to liberate Raqqa began in June 2017 with U.S.-coalition airstrikes backing SDF ground operations. The SDF forces are composed of Arab, Kurdish and Assyrian militias. The following are statements by U.S. officials and the SDF on the liberation.
President Donald Trump
I am pleased to announce that the Syrian Democratic Forces, our partners in the fight against ISIS in Syria, have successfully recaptured Raqqah – the terrorist group’s self-proclaimed capital city. Together, our forces have liberated the entire city from ISIS control.
The defeat of ISIS in Raqqah represents a critical breakthrough in our worldwide campaign to defeat ISIS and its wicked ideology. 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. Together, with our allies and partners, we will support diplomatic negotiations that end the violence, allow refugees to return safely home, and yield a political transition that honors the will of the Syrian people.
One of my core campaign promises to the American people was to defeat ISIS and to counter the spread of hateful ideology. That is why, in the first days of my Administration, I issued orders to give our commanders and troops on the ground the full authorities to achieve this mission. As a result, ISIS strongholds in Mosul and Raqqah have fallen. We have made, alongside our coalition partners, more progress against these evil terrorists in the past several months than in the past several years.
I commend all of our coalition partners for the sacrifices they have made in this noble effort. Therefore, as we recognize this military accomplishment, we also pause to honor our service men and women and all they have given to protect us and all civilized people from these modern day barbarians.
Today, we reaffirm that ISIS leaders, and anyone who supports them, must and will face justice.
—October 21, 2017, in a statement
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
We congratulate the Syrian people and the Syrian Democratic Forces, including the Syrian Arab Coalition, on the liberation of Raqqa. The United States is proud to lead the 73-member Global Coalition that supported this effort, which has seen ISIS’s so-called caliphate crumble across Iraq and Syria. Our work is far from over but the liberation of Raqqa is a critical milestone in the global fight against ISIS, and underscores the success of the ongoing international and Syrian effort to defeat these terrorists.
In January, ISIS was actively plotting terrorist attacks against our allies and our homeland in Raqqa. Nine short months later, it is out of ISIS’s control due to critical decisions President Trump made to accelerate the campaign. Over the last seven months, millions of people have been liberated from ISIS’s brutal rule and working with our partners on the ground we are setting the conditions to enable people to return home.
We cannot forget that this accomplishment also came at significant costs. The Syrian Democratic Forces suffered many losses along the way and we join them in mourning the lives lost. We also mourn the U.S. service members, and others from the Coalition, who made the ultimate sacrifice of giving their life to rid the region of ISIS and protect our homeland.
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. The barbaric nature of ISIS’s tactics left many scars and we are supporting stabilization efforts in liberated areas to help these communities heal.
While we continue the fight to ensure ISIS is defeated militarily where it remains in Syria, the U.S. and other Coalition members are making every effort to remove explosives left by ISIS and to get critical humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations. We are also supporting the efforts of the Raqqa Civil Council and other local Syrian actors to re-establish basic security and deliver essential services to stabilize communities, refurbish schools, and help facilitate the safe and voluntary return home of displaced Syrians.
This also marks the beginning of a new phase in the Syrian conflict. As we and our partners push toward the territorial defeat of ISIS, we will continue to seek to de-escalate violence across Syria. Reducing violence in Syria will allow the United States, our allies, and partners to focus even more on advancing UN-led diplomatic efforts, within the framework of UN Security Council Resolution 2254, aimed at reaching a genuine political transition that honors the will of the Syrian people.
ISIS’s loss of Raqqa does not mean our fight against ISIS is over. The Global Coalition will continue to draw on all elements of national power – military, intelligence, diplomacy, economic, law enforcement, and the strength of our communities – until all Syrians have been liberated from ISIS brutality and we can ensure that it can no longer export its terror around the world. The Coalition will continue its relentless campaign to deny ISIS safe haven anywhere in the world, and sever its ability to recruit, move foreign terrorist fighters, transfer funds, and spread false propaganda over the internet and social media. We are confident that we will prevail and defeat this brutal terrorist organization.
—Oct. 20, 2017, in a statement
Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve
The Coalition congratulates our Syrian Democratic Forces partners on their announcement of the liberation of Raqqah, Syria, from Daesh occupation Oct. 20. Daesh's loss of Mosul and now Raqqah are turning points for the terrorist organization whose leaders grow ever more distant from a dwindling number of terrorist adherents.
Raqqah was occupied by Syrian opposition forces in 2013 and was embroiled in a destructive civil war before being seized by Daesh in January 2014, at which time the city was declared the capital of the terrorist group's so-called "caliphate."
During the civil war in Raqqah, the local population lived in a cross-fire of destruction brought about by continuous conflict between the Syrian regime and the opposition. Under Daesh, Raqqah became a magnet for foreign terrorists. Residents were forced to live under a brutal regime that routinely carried out public executions, extortions billed as "taxation," and forced conscriptions.
Daesh used its three-plus year occupation to convert Raqqah into a fortified military prison. The terrorist organization used hospitals, mosques, schools and otherwise-protected sites as cover for the planning, execution and support of military operations. Daesh also committed violations of human rights for which individuals will be held accountable. Raqqah was a key location for Daesh's planning, financing, execution, or inspiration of terrorist activities throughout the world, including attacks in Paris, Brussels, Nice, Manchester and many others.
The fight to liberate Raqqah commenced with Coalition Strikes against Daesh in support of the ground assault by Syrian Democratic Forces June 6. By Sept. 3, SDF had made significant gains and secured the Ancient Mosque in the old city center. This prevented the mosque from succumbing to the same fate as the Al Nuri Mosque in West Mosul, Iraq, which Daesh terrorists destroyed in June 2017.
"An ethnically diverse force with local elements leading the fight, the SDF conducted a highly effective, professional operation in a difficult urban area to free the city," said Coalition director of Operations, Brig. Gen. Jonathan Braga. "They fought tenaciously and with courage against an unprincipled enemy, taking great care to move the population trapped by Daesh away from the battle area and minimize civilian casualties," said Braga.
Throughout the fight for Raqqah, the Coalition provided - and continues to provide - training, equipment, advice, assistance, intelligence, air and ground fires support to decisively defeat Daesh. The liberated city will return to local governance and leadership. Raqqawis now have a chance to control their own future.
While symbolic, the SDF's liberation of Raqqa does not mean the end of Daesh terrorism. "The military defeat of Daesh is essential, but not sufficient," said Coalition commander Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk II. "We are still fighting the remnants of Daesh in Iraq and Syria, and will continue to facilitate humanitarian efforts assisting citizens adversely affected by a brutal occupation, who face a long battle to gain their freedom," said Funk. "A tough fight still lies ahead."
We honor the valor and considerable sacrifices of our Partner and Coalition Forces in this epic struggle to rid the region of violent extremism. Coalition and partners forces remain fully committed to the permanent defeat of Daesh in Syria and Iraq.
—Oct. 20, 2017, in a statement
Lieutenant General Paul E. Funk II, Commander Operation Inherent Resolve
—Oct. 20, 2017
Brigadier General Jonathan Braga, Director of Operations Operation Inherent Resolve
“They fought tenaciously and with courage against an unprincipled enemy, taking great care to move the population trapped by Daesh away from the battle area and minimize civilian casualties.”
—Oct. 20, 2017, according to The Washington Post
General Command of Syrian Democratic Forces
On behalf of the General Command of the Syrian Democratic Forces, we proudly announce today from city center of Raqqa the victory of our forces in the major battle to defeat the organization terrorist(ISIS)and defeating him in the capital of his alleged succession and liberating the city of Rashid The bride of the Euphrates.
We offer gifts this historic victory of all humanity, especially the families of the victims of terrorism, who have suffered injustice and terror in Syria and the world
On this historic occasion, we pay tribute to the souls of our righteous martyrs, who were taken over and played a major role in liberating neighborhoods.
Shahid of the battle of Raqqa are the true creators of this great victory. The blood of 655 Syrian people, Arabs, Kurds, Turkmans, Syrians, Turks, Americans, and Britons, was mixed up on this land, and succeeded in evacuating and securing. The lives of approximately 450 thousand citizens from the city of Raqqa.
We thank all the factions of the Syrian Democratic Forces and their supporting forces from the brave Shinqali women’s protection units, the Shankal protection units, the Asayish forces, the internal security forces, the community protection forces, the self-defense forces and the international fighters battalion, and thank the international coalition forces and their military advisers who participated in the operations. Military on the battlefield is effectively prominent
We salute all the media who have done all they can to convey the truth and have not sacrificed even their lives for their mission and humanitarian mission.
We also highly appreciate the moral and material support provided by Civil Council of Raqqa and the tribal sheikhs of the region and its guidance to our forces.
Our victory is a victory over terrorism and its brutality. Liberation is the final chapter in the epic of confrontation and the fight against the Syrian terror we launched from the resistance town of Kubani, and the spirit of resistance shown by the fighters during the Cobani resistance in 134 days and they were able to defeat the world’s most brutal terrorist organization For the first time, it was again demonstrated in the 134-day struggle to liberate al-Raqqa, which largely ended the existence of the terrorist organization as a military force threatening humanity.
We at the General Command of the Syrian Democratic Forces declare that we will hand over the administration of the city of Raqqa and its countryside to the Civil Council and hand over the duties of protecting the security of the city and its countryside to the internal security forces in Raqqa. We pledge to protect the borders of the province against all external threats. A decentralized federal democracy in which the people of the province manage their own affairs.
We call on all countries and forces that love freedom and peace and all humanitarian and international organizations to participate in the reconstruction and construction of the city and its countryside and to help remove the remnants of war and destruction left by the organization
With this declaration we have liberated the entire city, and we have faced another task of building and achieving stability in the liberated city, which requires unity and solidarity. We therefore appeal to all the people of Al-Rigga with its Arab, Kurdish, Turkmen and Syriac components to work together to rebuild and build the city and its countryside and to form a democratic administration that represents the will of all.
Glory and eternity to our martyrs heroes, and the speedy recovery of our wounds
Death to terror, shame for his supporters.
—October 20, 2017, in a statement
Talal Sillo, Spokesman and Senior Commander Syrian Democratic Forces
“Our victory is one against terrorism, and the liberation of Raqqa marks the latest chapter in the fight against terrorists in Syria.”
“We call upon all countries and peace-loving forces and all humanitarian organizations to participate in rebuilding the city and villages around it and help in removing the scars of war that were inflicted by the Islamic State.”
—October 20, 2017, according to The Washington Post
"The future of Raqqa will be decided by its people."
—October 20, 2017, according to CNN
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