Islamic State territory in Syria eliminated, says White House
The president has been hinting at the victory for days.
All Islamic State-held territory in Syria has been “100%” eliminated, the White House has announced, though officials said sporadic fighting continues on the ground between coalition forces and the group’s holdouts.
The complete fall of the last IS stronghold in Baghouz would the end of the militant group’s self-declared caliphate, which at its height stretched across large parts of Syria and Iraq.
President Donald Trump said “it’s about time” after a campaign by US and coalition forces that spanned five years and two US presidencies unleashed more than 100,000 bombs, and killed untold numbers of civilians.
....There is nothing to admire about them, they will always try to show a glimmer of vicious hope, but they are losers and barely breathing. Think about that before you destroy your lives and the lives of your family!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 22, 2019
US officials said the Syrian Democratic Forces are still battling the last remaining IS fighters who are holed up in tunnels along river cliffs in Baghouz and have refused to surrender.
Officials said the SDF has not announced any declaration of victory, and there was no announcement planned.
According to the officials, the SDF is moving slowly and carefully, and is willing to wait out the IS fighters who are out of food and low on water.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters aboard Air Force One that Mr Trump was briefed about the development by acting defence secretary Patrick Shanahan.
Mr Trump showed reporters a map of Iraq and Syria that showed that the terror group no longer controlled any territory in the region.
Just over two years ago, ISIS was considered one of the gravest threats to the future of the Middle East—and to the peace and security of the free world.— The White House (@WhiteHouse) March 21, 2019
Now, the self-declared caliphate has been obliterated off the map. Literally.
1600 Daily: https://t.co/A68ueVC88u pic.twitter.com/ip3xwESWKi
“Here’s Isis on election day,” he said, pointing to a red area signifying the group’s previous territorial gains, and then to one without any red: “Here’s Isis right now.”
He has been teasing the victory for days, most recently on Wednesday when he said the milestone would be achieved by that night, but sleeper cells of fighters have re-emerged.