A top British general in the U.S.-led coalition battling Islamic State (IS) extremists in Syria says a defeat of the militant group in Raqqa would not be the end of the fight.
British Major General Rupert Jones told reporters on July 23 that the coalition will have "a great deal more" to do in Syria even after it pushes IS out of its Raqqa stronghold.
The extremist group "is not defeated with the liberation of Raqqa,” Jones said, pointing out that IS continues to put up resistance in Iraq after it was driven from its former stronghold there, the northern city of Mosul.
“The liberation of Raqqa, as with the liberation of Mosul, is not the end,” he said. “It's actually the start of the process."
"We know as an international coalition there's still a great deal more to do here in Syria," said Jones, speaking in the town of Ain Issa, about 50 kilometers north of Raqqa.
He praised the Arab-Kurdish alliance known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, saying the U.S.-backed fighters “have proved themselves to be a reliable counter-Daesh partner," using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.
Islamic State fighters captured large swathes of territory in 2014 from Syrian and Iraqi government forces.
But U.S.-backed forces have driven the extremist group from much of their lands and are severely pressuring them in Raqqa.