The ‘Caliphate’ is No More. But the Islamic State Isn’t Finished Yet. By Liz Sly and Louisa Loveluck – Washington Post
U.S.-backed forces declared the final defeat of the Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate Saturday, bringing to an end the brutal experiment in state building that had lured foot soldiers from around the world and inflicted unimaginable suffering on those caught up in the militants’ rampage through Iraq and Syria.
The Syrian Democratic Forces hoisted their yellow flag atop a bullet-scarred building in the eastern Syrian village of Baghouz, replacing the remaining black flag to fly over the speck of land where the most die-hard of the militants had fought their last stand.
On his Twitter account, SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali declared the “total elimination” of the Islamic State’s territorial control, 4½ years after the group’s sweep through Iraq and Syria drew the United States into the war against it.
The end of the caliphate won’t mean the end of the Islamic State, U.S. officials and analysts warn. As their territorial defeat neared, the militants switched gears and began regrouping as an insurgency that is already destabilizing areas from which they were driven out years ago.
But it was nonetheless a landmark moment, hard-won and at a heavy price.
Tens of thousands of people lost their lives in massacres and executions committed by the militants, in the battles to dislodge them and in the airstrikes that provided the muscle for the fight. Thousands of women from the Yazidi religious minority were enslaved, and many still are missing…