The village of Baghouz, where the US-led coalition had been repeatedly conducting bombings, was reportedly the last Daesh stronghold in Syria.
Reclusive even when IS was at the peak of its power, the 47-year-old Iraqi, who suffers from diabetes, has been rumoured to have been wounded or killed several times in the past.
Still, the fall of Baghouz is a big milestone in a fight against the group waged by numerous local and global forces over more than four years. They contain hundreds of entries on fighters, their names, earnings and correspondence, the Times reported.
August features the barbaric murder and enslavement of thousands of Yazidi religious minority in northern Iraq - surrounding and trapping many on Mount Sinjar.
Victims say they may never be able to shake the memories of the horrors they endured. "Maybe I still don't", said Mahdiya, 28, a member of Iraq's Yazidi minority who lived almost five years as a slave. "When I took over it was a mess".
In 2010, the group's current leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was named the ISIS chief. Half buried in the dirt was a tattered shred of ISIS notorious black flag, while a giant yellow flag belonging to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fluttered atop a shell-pocked building.
Meanwhile, the SDF said 11,000 of its fighters were killed in the fight against IS. Some US officials are estimated 15,000 to 20,000 armed ISIS fighters could remain in the region.
"We are still gathering information from today's events, and are in touch with the driver's family to support them however we can", he said.
In 2014, the extremist group captured Raqqa Province in Syria and declared the establishment of a caliphate. They described the land that they seized as an Islamic State, and it often bore the hallmarks of a real one. Killings, assassinations and targeted killings are not uncommon in many areas where the group used to operate.
In Syria, there have been fewer signs of an organised revival, but officials caution that may not last. ISIS lost their last Iraqi territory in 2017, and have now lost any meaningful territory in Syria.
US President Donald Trump announced on Friday that the ISIS terrorist group no longer holds territory in Syria, saying it was "100 percent defeated". "To all of the young people on the internet believing in (IS's) propaganda, you will be dead if you join".
At the moment, Al-Baghdadi is thought to be hiding in the desert somewhere in Iraq or Syria. The group, which came to be known as the Nusra Front, initially welcomed moderate Sunni rebels who were part of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The U.S. -led military campaign began in September 2014 after the Islamist militants rampaged through Iraq, seizing a third of its territory in the space of a week. Some of them defiantly chanted Islamic State slogans and lobbed fistfuls of dirt at reporters. Bureaucrats dealt with household bills and garbage collection.
It started years ago to call on followers overseas to plan their own attacks, rather than focusing purely on ones staged by trained operatives supported by the group's hierarchy.
The end of the war will bring into focus the vast challenges that lie ahead.
The Pentagon said this month that 1,190 civilians had been killed by American strikes in Iraq and Syria since the beginning of the campaign. Towns, neighbourhoods and villages have been levelled, with little hope that they will be repaired anytime soon. "They have made calculated decisions to preserve what is left of their dwindling personnel and capabilities by taking their chances in camps for internally displaced persons and going to ground in remote areas".
As the militants have put up a desperate, last-ditch fight for weeks, they have kept up their recruiting efforts, as Trump noted.
A military band played anthems, including the Star Spangled Banner, as a ceremony attended by Kurdish top brass and officials got under way.
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