ISIS’s territorial defeat now begins a new phase in operations against the extremist group, which will target sleeper cells, according to a top Syrian Kurdish Commander.
Speaking at a press conference held on Saturday following ISIS’s defeat in Syria by US-backed Syrian forces, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Commander Mazloum Kobane, said that the focus of upcoming military operations in the extremists’ former heartland would be the elimination of sleeper cells “which are a great threat to our region and the whole world.”
ISIS’s territorial defeat comes after a six-month operation which resulted in the death of more than 630 civilians, according to a monitoring group.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that during the months-long operations, 209 children and 157 women were killed – some of which were relatives of the extremist group.
The operation had also cost the lives of 730 SDF fighters, while 1,600 extremists were killed.
Following Saturday’s defeat, the US-led coalition congratulated the Syrian people and the SDF, adding that the SDF had made great sacrifices in eliminating ISIS. However, the coalition said “the fight is not over.”
The coalition also stressed on the importance of supporting the UN Security Council Resolution 2254 to end the conflict in Syria, as well as quoted US President Donald Trump as he stressed on the importance of continuing the work to ensure the total elimination of ISIS.
Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Theresa May described the fall of the last bastion held by ISIS as a “historic milestone,” as she paid tribute to British forces and coalition partners.
“The liberation of the last (ISIS-held) territory is a historic milestone that would not have been possible without their commitment, professionalism, and courage,” she said in a statement.