March 23 marked the first anniversary of the territorial defeat of ISIS. A year ago, the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh/ISIS, in conjunction with local partners, liberated ISIS’s last remaining stronghold in Baghouz, Syria, and crushed its territorial ambitions.
At its peak, ISIS occupied a large swath of territory stretching from western Syria to the outskirts of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.During its reign of terror, ISIS used thousands of people from around the globe to fight in Iraq and Syria -- committing gross, systematic human rights abuses, including mass executions, persecuting and torturing individuals and entire communities based on their identity, killing, maiming, raping women and children, and other horrific atrocities.
Under its slain former leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS was responsible for the deaths of Americans James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig, and Kayla Mueller.ISIS publicly beheaded more than 300 people, committed genocidal killings of the Yazidi population, and murdered thousands of captured prisoners of war.
Today, nearly eight million people have been freed from ISIS’s control in Iraq and Syria. Many have returned home to rebuild their lives, thanks to various forms of Coalition assistance and stabilization support. There are still many more women and children waiting for their countries to take them back.
Even as the Coalition’s mission continues, the unprecedented challenges posed to the Iraqi and Syrian people by the COVID-19 pandemic have led to temporary adjustments to protect the coalition forces during this period, in coordination with Iraqi authorities.
A statement released by the Coalition to Defeat Daesh/ISIS warns that we must remain vigilant in the fight against this terrorist group:“While we celebrate this critical milestone in the fight against ISIS, the work of the Global Coalition is far from complete as Daesh/ISIS remains a significant threat.”
“The Global Coalition will continue its comprehensive efforts in Iraq and Syria, and globally, to deny ISIS’s ambitions and the activities of its branches and networks, until the job is done.”