On Saturday (23 March) the Syrian Defence Force announced that ISIS’ last stronghold, the small town of Baghuz on the banks of the Euphrates, had been captured. With that, ISIS’ so-called Caliphate was at an end.
When British MPs voted for resolutions supporting strikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, these had specific aims. Firstly, in 2014, strikes were authorised to aid Iraqi security and then in 2015, to eliminate ISIS’ safe haven in Syria. Now, more than four years later, Iraq has declared victory over ISIS, and the so-called ‘safe haven’ for ISIS has been removed.
Over the weekend however, British ministers have been quick to insist that the battle goes on. In a clearly coordinated message, both British and US Defence Secretaries argued that while the caliphate is over, the ideology remains. British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, wrote in The Telegraph:
“We cannot say this fight is over. The terrorists are as much an evil ideology as a geographical entity. We’ve always known that cutting off one head of the snake could lead to others springing up elsewhere. We’re painfully aware of the threat these extremists still pose whether to Iraq, the wider region or to our own shores.
And lest his intent to launch air strikes wherever deemed necessary was not clear enough, he went on:
“As I said to RUSI recently, a Global Britain must to be ready to intervene, using all the hard power at our disposal to defend the international rules-based system. (end of excerpt)
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