“It should be formally announced sometime, probably next week, that we will have 100 percent of the caliphate,” Trump stated.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
The Islamist caliphate that ISIS had declared in Iraq and Syria in 2014 could be considered completely destroyed as of next week, U.S. President Donald Trump announced Wednesday in Washington.
At a meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, he explained a statement he made hours earlier in his State of the Union address, saying that his administration had overseen “a near complete victory” over ISIS.
“It should be formally announced sometime, probably next week, that we will have 100 percent of the caliphate,” Trump told representatives of the 79-nation group. However, “I don’t want to say too early,” he added.
Last year, the international coalition estimated that it had removed 99 percent of the terrorist group’s “state” in Syria and Iraq. U.S. officials said recently that ISIS is in charge of fewer than five square kilometers in Syria’s Middle Euphrates River Valley.
It has been noted that the organization continues to control territory in West Africa, Afghanistan, Libya and the Sinai desert – a fact that hasn’t changed at this point.
In addition, as recently as last month, American intelligence officials warned Congress during its annual “Worldwide Threat Assessment” that land was not necessarily a requirement for the group’s continued operation against the West.
“ISIS still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria, and it maintains eight branches, more than a dozen networks and thousands of dispersed supporters around the world, despite significant leadership and territorial losses,” they said.
The president did relate to the threat of individuals continuing to follow ISIS philosophy and commit terrorist acts even without a territorial base.
Although “you can’t do better than we’ve done militarily,” he said, the world will still have to deal with “sick” and “demented” people, but “we will find them,” he promised.
Trump’s speech was aimed at deflecting criticism of his plan to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, which is taking longer than he had expected. His stated reasons for the slowdown have included protecting Israel as well as the Kurdish allies who have done most of the fighting in Syria against the Islamist forces.