The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) will announce their victory over Islamic State (ISIS) in one week, the army’s commander-in-chief Mazloum Kobani said in a video released on Thursday.
“We will announce the complete victory over Daesh (Islamic State) in a week,” Kobani told a group of recently released SDF fighters, who had been held captive in Islamic State’s last enclave close to the Iraqi border. “We stopped military operations for your safety and now we have stopped the war for the safety of the rest of the comrades.”
In coming days, the Kurdish-led militia plan to storm an area held by jihadists on the edge of the village of Baghouz, the final pocket of the organization’s once impressive scale of territory.
The operation to fully defeat the caliphate from the Euphrates Valley has taken far longer than expected, having begun nearly six months ago. On February 25th, Kobani said that the caliphate would be fully defeated within a month, a target the forces have failed to achieve.
The U.S.-led coalition explained that Baghouz had been “more crowded with both civilians and fighters than expected,” requiring troops to evacuate around 40,000 civilians from the area.
“The overflow during the lull in battle has been difficult for the SDF and they have responded to everything well,” said coalition spokesman Colonel Sean Ryan.
Shocking footage released online this week showed how jihadis had dug out a mass grave, containing dozens of beheaded corpses and decapitated heads believed to belong to Yazidi slaves. Approximately 3,000 other Yazidis were captured and killed by ISIS after they seized the territory in 2014, crimes that the United Nations has since deemed as a genocide.