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U.S.-Backed Forces Tout 'Historic Victory' Over IS In Its Former Raqqa 'Capital'

Female fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) gather during a celebration at the iconic Al-Naim square in Raqqa

U.S.-backed forces hailed a "historic victory" on October 20 after expelling the extremist group Islamic State from its self-declared "capital" of Raqqa in Syria, and said they would soon hand power to a civilian administration.

Three days after fully retaking the northern city, from which the militant group once planned and launched violent attacks around the world, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces declared that the victory was for "all humanity."

The forces that liberated the once-thriving metropolis that the United Nations now estimates is 80 percent destroyed or uninhabitable said they still have work to do defusing land mines laid down by IS before they can turn the city over to Raqqa's civil council.

The U.S.-backed alliance said it wants to establish a federal system in Raqqa and the rest of Syria, something the government in Damascus has so far been unwilling to accept.

While the capture of Raqqa has diminished IS's territory to a tenth of what it once was, the U.S. counterterrorism chief said he expects the militants to continue to inspire violent attacks by followers around the world.

"If you say you're ISIS and you want to act on ISIS' behalf, you're in," said National Counterterrorism Center Director Nicholas Rasmussen, in a C-Span interview scheduled to air on October 22.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP