“Daesh will have been driven from all the territory before the end of the year” French military chief Francois Lecointre said.
The militants, who conquered vast stretches of Iraq and Syria in 2014, have lost all but a pocket of land in Syria’s eastern Deir Ezzor province between the Euphrates river and Iraqi border, though they remain present in the Syrian desert.
Lecointre predicted “the end of the physical caliphate of Daesh before the end of the year, probably late autumn”.
France is part of the U.S.-led coalition that has been fighting Daesh since 2014 and is now supporting Kurdish and Arab fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces as they battle to oust the militants from their last holdout.
“Once the physical caliphate has fallen… we will pose the question of how to reconfigure Operation Inherent Resolve,” Lecointre said of the coalition.
The Syrian conflict has become increasingly complex since it grew out of anti-government protests in 2011, drawing in other major powers including Russia and Turkey.