U.S. President Donald Trump on has praised the liberation of the city of Raqqa from ISIL, saying that the end of ISIL’s so-called “caliphate” is in sight.
In a written statement, he said that he was pleased to announce the liberation of the entire city of Raqqa – ISIL’s self-proclaimed capital.
“The defeat of ISIS [ISIL] in Raqqah represents a critical breakthrough in our worldwide campaign to defeat ISIS and its wicked ideology,” Trump said, using another name for ISIL.
With the liberation of ISIL’s capital and the vast majority of its territory, the end of the group’s so-called caliphate is in sight, he added.
Trump said the U.S. will soon transition into a new phase supporting local security forces, de-escalate violence across Syria, and advance conditions for lasting peace in order to prevent terrorists from becoming a threat 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,” he added.
The PKK/PYD, the Syrian branch of the terrorist PKK, which has waged war against Turkey for more than 30 years, was among the U.S.-backed SDF group that took control of Raqqa from ISIL earlier this week.
The taking of the eastern Syrian city saw the unfurling of a huge banner bearing the image of convicted terrorist PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan in the main square, an event Turkey has condemned.
Against strong Turkish objections, the U.S. has given weapons and equipment to the SDF, which consists of the PKK/PYD and other groups, in fighting ISIL in Syria but has largely ignored its links to the PKK, which the U.S., EU and Turkey list as a terrorist group.
In declaring victory in Raqqah, the PKK/PYD also released a video dedicating the triumph to Ocalan, who founded the PKK in 1978. The head terrorist was jailed for treason in Turkey in 1999.
Since the PKK launched its terror campaign in Turkey in 1984, some 40,000 people have been killed, including 1,200 since July 2015.—Agencies