Tillerson: Freeing Syria’s Raqqa is ‘milestone’

BEIRUT (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has congratulated the Syrian people and the U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces on the liberation of the city of Raqqa from the Islamic State group.

In a statement released on Friday, Tillerson says the United States is proud to lead the 73-member global coalition in the fight against IS.

He says the coalition efforts has seen Islamic State’s “so-called caliphate crumble across Iraq and Syria” but cautions that “our work is far from over.”

Tillerson says the “liberation of Raqqa is a critical milestone in the global fight … to defeat these terrorists.”

He says the fall of the city that was IS’ de facto capital also “marks the beginning of a new phase in the Syrian conflict” in which the United States and its partners will seek to “de-escalate violence across Syria.”

He says: “We are confident that we will prevail and defeat this brutal terrorist organization.”