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- President Donald Trump said Thursday that the US military and its partners have liberated the last of the ISIS-controlled territory in Syria.
- The announcement comes a few weeks after the president predicted all ISIS territory would be recaptured in just a week’s time and months after Trump declared victory over the terror organization.
- The Syrian Democratic Forces who’ve retaken the territory are not reportedly planning to claim victory until next week, if not later.
President Donald Trump declared Thursday that the coalition has retaken all of the territory previously held by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
“You kept hearing it was 90%, 92%, the caliphate in Syria. Now it’s 100%,” Trump said Thursday at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska, according to Voice of America. “We have the whole thing.”
The Syrian Democratic Forces, US-backed Kurdish warfighters, have been fighting a fierce battle to drive ISIS out of the Middle Euphrates River Valley.
Trump previously predicted earlier this month that the last of the ISIS-controlled territory in Syria would be recaptured in one week’s time. “It should be formally announced sometime probably next week that we will have 100 percent of the caliphate,” Trump said on Feb. 6 at a meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS in Washington, DC, Bloomberg reported.
It appears his prediction was off slightly.
The president had already declared victory over ISIS in mid-December. “We have won against ISIS,” Trump said in a video message on Dec.19. “We’ve beaten them, and we’ve beaten them badly. We’ve taken back the land.”
He was sharply criticized by members of both parties for his claim that ISIS had been defeated, especially when US service members were killed in a ISIS terrorist attack in Syria just a few weeks later.
It’s possible Trump’s latest claim may similarly be premature, as the SDF said Thursday they will officially claim victory over ISIS in one week’s time, according to Reuters.
“Trump’s ignorance [about] the conditions on the ground [regarding] the battle against ISIS is abhorrent,” a purported SDF spokesperson said on Twitter in response to the president’s claims.
“ISIS is not simply laying down arms and surrendering. Instead they’re preparing to make a last stand which is making it harder to predict a quick ending,” he added. “Victory doesn’t seem to be coming in next days.”
The president’s stop in Alaska follows a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that ended early due to a failure to reach an agreement.