IS loses its stronghold Raqqa

An Arab-Kurdish alliance has by its own account taken the Syrian city of Raqqa, which was considered the IS's stronghold. Commentators are delighted by the fall of the organisation's propaganda centre but fear that new terrorist groups are waiting in the wings in war-torn Syria.

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ABC (ES) /

Terrorists driven from propaganda headquarters

With the loss of their stronghold Raqqa the terrorists have been deprived of one of their key instruments of propaganda, ABC believes:

“A phenomenon as global as armed jihadism doesn't always need a specific place to carry out its perverse plans but can - as we have unfortunately observed - strike out from many places at the same time. Yet from the propaganda perspective the loss of Raqqa is a major setback for the IS terrorists. The times when they could call on supporters from all over the world to settle in this territory where they set up their bloody regime have ended. ... Whereas in recent years they were able to go on perpetrating their atrocities here as proof that they could impose their own laws in one part of the world, now they are doomed to roam the world hiding from their enemies.”

Die Tageszeitung taz (DE) /

New geopolitical conflict looming

The IS has been pushed back but peace is still a long way off, the taz fears:

“In the same way that the Kurds and the Shiite central government are now fighting in Iraq over the oil region of Kirkuk, a conflict over the Syrian oilfields could now break out between Assad's troops, the Russians and the Iranian militias on the one hand and the Kurds on the other. ... The IS's troops have been beaten, but the factors that allowed it to become so strong in Syria and Iraq haven't changed: in both countries the Sunnis still feel politically and economically oppressed. Skirmishes between the US and Iran haven't produced a sustainable postwar order. All they do is ensure that Syria remains an unstable death zone in which the next terrorist group will soon emerge, seemingly from out of the blue.”

De Tijd (BE) /

Focus must be on Syria once more

It's too early to celebrate the fall of the IS stronghold Raqqa, De Tijd warns:

“The fall of the self-proclaimed caliphate's 'capital' is a major symbolic victory. Nevertheless the terrorist organisation still has a foreign network of jihad fighters and the IS's message will also continue to be spread via the Internet. ... What's more, the fall of Raqqa doesn't represent a breakthrough in the Syrian conflict either. ... Now that the IS has been defeated militarily the time has come to start diplomatic negotiations. That won't be easy, however, as the mutual enemy is no longer there. Now a solution must be found for the war that has lasted longer than six years and claimed so many civilian lives.”