President Donald Trump said Wednesday he expects to be able to announce next week that the U.S. and coalition partners have reclaimed 100 percent of the Islamic State caliphate.
Trump said the U.S. military will be giving him official notice very soon that 100 percent of the territory once held by the Islamic State group has been retaken in Iraq and Syria.
He gave remarks at the State Department to foreign ministers and senior officials from a 79-member U.S.-led coalition battling the Islamic State.
“The United States military, our coalition partners, and the Syrian Democratic Forces have liberated virtually all of the territory previously held by ISIS.” pic.twitter.com/vccSS30SMP
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) February 6, 2019
In December, Trump announced the withdrawal of 2,000-plus U.S. troops from Syria.
U.S. officials say the Islamic State group has lost 99.5 percent of its territory and is holding on to less than 2 square miles in the villages of the Middle Euphrates River Valley in Syria, where the bulk of the fighters are concentrated.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said America won’t cede leadership of the fight against the Islamic State group.
.@SecPompeo: We must recommit ourselves to the goal of permanently defeating ISIS. For our victory to be final, ISIS must no longer pose a threat to our respective homelands or function as a global network. There must be no more safe havens from which it can operate. #DefeatISIS pic.twitter.com/3W3STbqdFn
— Department of State (@StateDept) February 6, 2019
He told the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition that the planned withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria “is not a change in the mission” but a change in tactics.
The announced troop drawdown led to the resignations of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the top U.S. envoy to the coalition.
Many U.S. military leaders have pushed back for months, arguing that the Islamic State remains a threat and could regroup.
Foreign ministers and senior officials from the 79-member coalition are meeting in Washington to develop a way ahead.
Trump planned to urge the group later Wednesday to stay the course and step up contributions to stabilization efforts.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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