BAGHOUZ, Syria – Kurdish-led forces announced on Saturday, March 23, they had fully captured the Islamic State group's last bastion in eastern Syria and declared the total elimination of the jihadists' "caliphate".
"Syrian Democratic Forces declare total elimination of so-called caliphate and 100% territorial defeat of ISIS," Mustefa Bali, spokesman of the US-backed Kurdish-Arab alliance, said in a statement.
Friday afternoon, March 22, mortar rounds hit a former ISIS encampment in the village of Baghouz on the banks of the Euphrates River, sending a column of dark smoke up into the sky, an Agence France-Presse (AFP) correspondent said.
The White House also said Friday the once-sprawling "caliphate" had been wiped out but the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) it backs on the ground stressed that clashes were ongoing until the confirmation
President Donald Trump's spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders, said "the territorial caliphate has been eliminated in Syria."
"Clashes are ongoing in Baghouz. Small ISIS groups refusing to surrender are launching attacks and our forces are responding," SDF spokesman Adnan Afrin told an AFP reporter near Baghouz.
The White House has jumped the gun several times on announcing the demise of ISIS territorial control.
The SDF launched what it called its "final assault" against the jihadists' last redoubt in Baghouz on February 9. – Rappler.com