While an official announcement has not been released as of yet, Fox News was told that the final ISIS stronghold has been liberated, documenting the destruction during a report. A Fox News reporter was in the country for five days and noted that, after the last offensive, the sound of bombs and gunfire has ceased.
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Fox News documented the end of the caliphate – an empire that, at one time, ruled over 8 million people and that the network labeled “brutal” – while in Baghouz, Syria, a village that is believed to have been the final ISIS stronghold in the country.
Soon after the final offensive, troops started to take down the black ISIS flags that flew over the town, often a source of fear for those who were not associated with ISIS.
Fox News witnessed the offensive, where US-backed SDF forces attacked the ISIS stronghold from three side, working diligently to push back the fighters and going from house to house and tent to tent as they worked their way toward the Euphrates River.
ISIS fighters managed to hide in Baghouz for a long time, relying on tunnels, trenches, and hundreds of tarpaulin-covered holes that blended into the environment.
As the offensive came to an end, many fighters simply surrendered.
Camps filled with fighters are still present in the desert, and the SDF has requested support from the US to help set up tribunals for prosecution.
A clearing operation is also still underway in Baghouz, making it likely that an official announcement will be released soon after that is complete.
None of the primary ISIS leaders were found in Baghouz. Instead, it is believed that they fled the area, leaving their men to fight without them.
While the devastation in the region is severe, leaders recognize that it would have taken significantly longer to deal the final blow without assistance from the US.