Donald Trump says liberation of Raqqa 'critical breakthrough' in campaign to defeat Islamic State

Washington: President Donald Trump on Saturday lauded the liberation of Raqqa as "a critical breakthrough" in the international campaign to defeat Islamic State and said the US will support diplomatic negotiations that end violence in the war-torn Syria.

Donald Trump says liberation of Raqqa critical breakthrough in campaign to defeat Islamic State

File image of US president Donald Trump. Reuters

The Syrian Democratic Forces with the support from the US-led international coalition recently declared the "total liberation" of the Syrian city of Raqqa, which for more than three years was the de facto capital of Islamic State (ISIS) terror group.

Trump said anyone who supports Islamic State will face justice as he formally announced the liberation of Raqqa and earlier the Iraqi city of Mosul the two strong hold of this terrorist outfit.

"The defeat of ISIS in Raqqa represents a critical breakthrough in our worldwide campaign to defeat ISIS and its wicked ideology. With the liberation of ISIS's capital and the vast majority of its territory, the end of the ISIS caliphate is in sight," Trump said.

"Today, we reaffirm that ISIS leaders, and anyone who supports them, must and will face justice..Together, our forces have liberated the entire city from ISIS control," he said in a statement.

Trump said soon in a new transition the US will support local security forces, de-escalate violence across Syria and advance the conditions for lasting peace so that the terrorists cannot return to threaten the collective security 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 honours the will of the Syrian people," he said.

Trump said one of his core campaign promises to the American people was to defeat the Islamic State and to counter the spread of hateful ideology.

He said that is why, in the first days of his administration, he issued orders to give the commanders and troops on the ground the full authority to achieve this mission.

"As a result, ISIS strongholds in Mosul and Raqqa have fallen. We have made, alongside our coalition partners, more progress against these evil terrorists in the past several months than in the past several years," he said.

The president commended all of the coalition partners for their sacrifices.

Raqqa was occupied by the Syrian opposition forces in 2013 and was embroiled in a destructive civil war before being seized by the Islamic State in January 2014, the time when the city was declared the capital of the terrorist group's so-called "caliphate".

During the civil war in Raqqa, the local population lived in a cross-fire of destruction brought about by continuous conflict between the Syrian regime and the opposition. Under Islamic State, the city became a magnet for foreign terrorists.

Syria's civil war has killed more than 300,000 people, uprooted over half the population and left much of the country in ruins since it erupted in 2011.

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Updated Date: Oct 22, 2017 16:54:38 IST

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