Trump says seizure of “100 percent” of ISIS territory should be announced soon
President Trump told ministers with the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Wednesday he anticipates an announcement “probably” next week that “100 percent” of ISIS’ territory has been captured. But the president, speaking at the State Department, added he doesn’t want to announce that now because he wants to wait for the official word.
“It should be formally announced sometime probably next week that we will have 100 percent of the caliphate,” Mr. Trump told his audience of international leaders in brief remarks. “But I want to wait for the official word. I don’t want to say it too early.”
But the president also said there will always be “sick” and “demented” people in the region, “no matter how well we do militarily.”
“I just want to thank everybody in this room,” the president said as he concluded. “This is a special group of brilliant people and it’s been an honor to work with you and we will continue to work with you because unfortunately, this is not going to be something that, as brilliant as our military is, knocking out the big big sections, they’ll still have tiny sections — can be so dangerous.”
The president’s remarks at the State Department come as he looks to withdraw troops from Syria rapidly, a move his own Pentagon says could allow for ISIS to reclaim ground. The Republican-led Senate alsodecrying the move to withdraw troops swiftly from Syria and pointing out that such a move could jeopardize progress in the region.
Mr. Trump told CBS News’ Margaret Brennan last week that the U.S. military could always come back, if it needed to do so.
The president’s decision to withdraw the U.S. military from Syria coincided with the departure of Defense Secretary James Mattis, as well as the special envoy in the, both of whom disagreed with the president on his plan to rapidly withdraw U.S. troops.
In his first State of the Union address before a divided Congress, the president declared he intends to bring an end to “endless wars” overseas, something he campaigned on ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
“As a candidate for president, I loudly pledged a new approach,” Mr. Trump told the House chamber Tuesday night. “Great nations do not fight endless wars. “When I took office, ISIS controlled more than 20,000 square miles in Iraq and Syria — just two years ago. Today, we have liberated virtually all of the territory from the grip of these bloodthirsty monsters. Now, as we work with our allies to destroy the remnants of ISIS, it is time to give our brave warriors in Syria a warm welcome home. I have also accelerated our negotiations to reach — if possible — a political settlement in Afghanistan.”