The Americans and the world at large have reason to gloat over the manner in which US-backed militias have heaped defeats over Islamic State (IS), pushing the dreaded terror outfit to the wall quite literally. The latest setback, the defeat of IS in its former capital Raqqa in Syria came on Tuesday, with US militia raising their flags over the jihadist group’s last footholds in the city after a four-month battle.
A formal declaration of victory in Raqqa would soon be made once the city had been cleared of mines and any possible Islamic State sleeper cells. The havoc and devastation wrought by the prolonged battle between the alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias with the IS is a grim reminder of what ruthlessness on both sides can do to a people caught in the vortex of hostilities. One’s mind goes back to the time when Raqqa fell to the Islamic State in 2014 with a string of euphoric parades. Indeed, Islamic State has lost most of its territory in Syria and Iraq this year, including its most prized possession, Mosul. In Syria, it has been forced back into a strip of the Euphrates valley and surrounding desert.
The final assault of the anti-IS forces began on Sunday after a group of Syrian jihadists quit the city under a deal with tribal elders, leaving only a hardcore of up to 300 fighters to defend the last positions. Yet, amidst all these successes, the liberation forces, including the Americans who provided valuable air cover will have to be on the highest state of vigil against the nefarious designs of the IS which has no qualms in using the most deadly of means to bounce back.
Terror in all its manifestations is a hallmark of the IS hoodlums and there should be no illusions that the desperadoes under the command of the IS establishment have accepted defeat. Facing intense heat in their citadel, the IS cadres have moved to other terror havens. India too needs to be under high alert in Kashmir.