France, UK and US welcome the elimination of ISIS territory, but menace of terrorism remains
Territory may have been reclaimed, but extremist organisation is not defeated
World leaders have welcomed the announcement of the "total elimination" of ISIS territory by the SDF on Saturday, while warning of the continued threat posed by ISIS.
After a nearly five-year battle against ISIS, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces announced the "total elimination" of ISIS territory.
France's Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron welcomed the news, saying a "major danger for France" has been eliminated, while the United Kingdom's Prime Minister Theresa May praised the "immense courage of UK military and our allies."
Brett McGurk, former US Presidential Envoy for the Campaign to Defeat ISIS, praised the "diverse force of Arabs, Kurds, and Christians" who had pursued ISIS "town-to-town, block-by-block."
Mr McGurk resigned in December, criticising Mr Trump's surprise announcement of the withdrawal of US troops from Syria, arguing the American president had prematurely declared the defeat of ISIS.
"They also know better than anyone that defeat of the physical “caliphate” does not mean the end of ISIS", Mr McGurk said.
"Follow-through - with training, pressure on ISIS networks in Iraq & Syria, and support for holding thousands of detainees - is essential and was always part of the plan," he said.
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The Syrian Democratic Forces announced on Saturday the next iteration of their plan to defeat ISIS sleeper cells across the region.
Leaders have also warned that although ISIS does not officially hold any territory, the organisation is not defeated.
"But the menace remains and the struggle against terrorist groups must continue," Mr Macron said, while French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly posted on Twitter that "Islamic State no longer has any territory, but it has not disappeared."
The United Kingdom's Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt said ISIS "once imposed their rule of terror on an area the size of the United Kingdom," adding that "we cannot be complacent."
"[ISIS] and its poisonous ideology will continue to pose a threat to the people of Iraq and Syria, as well as to the wider world."
Updated: March 23, 2019 06:21 PM