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RAQQA, Syria (ChurchMilitant.com) - On Tuesday, Syrian forces recaptured the city of Raqqa, often called ISIS's capital. At the same time, experts changed the categorization of ISIS from "terror state" to "terrorist organization."
Reporter Jenan Moussa took videos and photographs of Syrian Defense Force (SDF) troops, honoring their victory in Raqqa. The celebrations in Raqqa's Al-Naim Square included doing doughnuts with an armored vehicle, mocking an ISIS propaganda video from 2014.
A similar phenomenon is happening in the Philippines. On Wednesday, government officials reported said that "stragglers" and a few hostages were all that remained of an ISIS affiliate in the city of Marawi. The extremist rebellion was known as the Maute group and used its ties to ISIS to recruit fellow Islamic militants.
The uprising of Islamic militants burst onto the scene in May this year, seizing Marawi and taking dozens of hostages, including a now-rescued Catholic priest, Fr. Teresito Soganub.
In a speech on Tuesday, President Duterte announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, I hereby declare Marawi City liberated from the terrorist influence."
In contrast, Brigadier General Restituto Padilla points out that the war has not fully ended. He said, "It will continue until armed elements are dealt with. But terrorists no longer have complete control."
The Filipino government, under President Rodrigo Duterte, has been criticized for continually failing to meet its own deadlines for defeating the Maute group. The continued delays, many commentators fear, may lead to greater unrest among the 300,000 refugees displaced by the conflict. This, combined with the Maute group's propaganda, could sow the seeds for future Islamic violence.
Elaine Duke, Acting Secretary in the Department of Homeland Security, warned on Wednesday that terrorist groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda "want to have the big explosion like they did on 9/11. They want to take down aircraft, the intelligence is clear on that."
The Trump appointee elaborated, "A bladed weapon attack causes terror and continues to disrupt the world but that does not mean they have given up on a major aviation plot."