West welcomes 'milestone' fall of IS bastion
Governments greeted the fall of Islamic State's last bastion, marking the end of its self-declared "caliphate", as a "milestone" Saturday, but warned of remaining dangers, as Syrian Kurds announced a "new phase" in the conflict.
President Emmanuel Macron said a source of potential terror attacks had been "eliminated", but warned that "the threat remains and the fight against terrorist groups must continue".
Prime Minister Theresa May called the bastion's fall "a historic milestone" in the fight against IS, and said the British government remained "committed to eradicating their poisonous ideology".
William Roebuck, an envoy to the US-led coalition fighting IS, called the fall of the group's last bastion a "critical milestone" that had delivered "a crushing blow" to IS.
"A new phase in the fight against terrorists" is beginning, said Mazloum Kobane, the overall commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces, adding that the target was now to eliminate IS "sleeper cells".
More than 630 civilians killed in Syria anti-IS fight
More than 630 civilians were killed in the six-month operation against the Islamic State group that culminated in its defeat by US-backed Syrian forces on Saturday, a monitor said.
The civilian dead -- among them relatives of IS fighters -- included 209 children and 157 women, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces launched their offensive against the jihadists' last bastions in the Euphrates Valley on September 10, taking town after town before finally announcing victory in the village of Baghouz on Saturday.
The Britain-based Observatory said the operation had cost the lives of 730 SDF fighters while 1,600 jihadists were also killed.
The SDF does not usually divulge its losses for months.
The Observatory says its figures are drawn from a network of sources inside Syria.