IS caliphate’s end ‘in sight’ after Raqa fall; says Trump


WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said on Saturday a transition can soon begin to set conditions for lasting peace in Syria now that the end of the Islamic State “caliphate is in sight” with the fall of Raqa.
The United States and its allies 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,” Trump said in a statement. The declaration came four days after US-backed Kurdish-led forces recaptured Raqa, the capital of IS’s self-proclaimed caliphate and its last major stronghold in Syria. Trump said the entire city has been liberated from IS control, which he said marked a “critical breakthrough” in the global struggle against the militant group. “With the liberation of ISIS’s capital and the vast majority of its territory, the end of the ISIS caliphate is in sight,” Trump said, using an alternate acronym for the Islamic State group.
“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.” Since capturing it in 2014, IS had used Raqa as a base for planning and conducting attacks in the west, including the November 13, 2015 suicide bombings and mass shootings in Paris that killed 130 people. French Foreign Minister Yves Le Drian celebrated IS’s defeat on Friday and declared “the crimes of the Bataclan have not gone unpunished,” referring to the concert venue where IS jihadists massacred 90 concertgoers.