It seems to be over:
The caliphate has crumbled, and the final offensive is over. While the official announcement hasn’t yet been made – Fox News has been told that this village, the last ISIS stronghold, is liberated.
It’s the first time since we’ve been here in Syria for five days that the bombs have stopped dropping and the gunfire has disappeared. We have witnessed the end of the caliphate – the brutal empire that once ruled over 8 million people – is gone.
Troops here are now bringing down the black flags of ISIS. The flags no longer fly over the town, instilling fear.
The last five days, Fox News has witnessed the last major offensive up close -– with U.S.-backed SDF forces attacking ISIS from three sides, pushing the fighters back, house to house, then tent to tent, against the Euphrates River.
Inside Baghouz, it’s easy to see how they hid for so long – not just in tunnels but trenches and hundreds of cubby holes covered by tarpaulins, which blend in perfectly to the dirt.
In the end, the majority surrendered. In fact, since the start of the year about 60,000 have dripped into the desert, and most are now held in camps.
Pentagon refuses to comment yet.
This is what the once mighty Islamic State that stretched from the outskirts of Baghdad to Aleppo has been reduced to – a Burning Man festival on the banks of the Euphrates:
If the reports are indeed correct, this last apocalyptic car graveyard too is now in friendly hands.
Any celebrations will be bittersweet – and premature.
Bittersweet, because as the ISIS jihadis raged up and down two countries for the past five years they have spilled a sea of blood and inflicted untold suffering on those unlucky to have fallen within their shifting borders, in particular the Yazidis, the Kurds, and any Sunnis who might have disagreed with the Caliphate’s totalitarian and barbarian religo-political vision. The victory arrives finally, but at a huge cost.
Premature, because while this particular emanation of Islamism and jihadism is dead, the ideology will live on and keep reviving in other troubled areas of the world amidst civil strife and failed states. It is like a virus, which attacks the host bodies. When the immune system of a particular country is strong, the damage done is relatively light, but when it is compromised in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia and others, the virus thrives. The Caliphate is dead, long live the Caliphate somewhere else. Where exactly, your guess is as good as mine. It could be in Afghanistan again, in areas under Taliban control, it could be in Somalia, which for all practical purposes is not a unitary state anymore, or it could be somewhere else in Saharan Africa.
Well done to all who stayed the course and fought hard to first contain and then destroy this latest evil. Tonight, let’s remember the dead and raise a glass to the heroes.