Trump says Isis will be '100%' defeated in Syria 'next week'

Mr Trump announced that the US would pull troops from Syria last week, shocking the defence community in Washington

Clark Mindock
New York
Wednesday 06 February 2019 17:00 GMT
Donald Trump says Isis will be '100%' defeated in Syria 'next week'

Isis will have lost all the territory it once controlled in Iraq and Syria by next week, Donald Trump has claimed.

The president made the statement during a gathering of coalition partners on Wednesday, where he maintained his promise to withdraw US troops from Syria.

“It should be formally announced sometime, probably next week, that we will have 100 per cent of the caliphate,” Mr Trump said.

“The United States military, our coalition partners and the Syrian Democratic Forces have liberated virtually all of the territory previously held by Isis in Syria and Iraq,” Mr Trump told foreign ministers and other senior officials from 79 countries that have worked alongside the United States in fighting Isis.

The comments came after secretary of state Mike Pompeo reassured coalition partners that a US withdrawal does not signal “the end of America’s fight”. Mr Pompeo called on American allies to work to ensure that Isis does not return to Syria and Iraq.

US officials have said in recent weeks that Isis has lost 99.5 per cent of its territory and is holding on to fewer than 5 square kilometres in Syria, or less than 2 square miles, in the villages of the Middle Euphrates River Valley, where the bulk of the fighters are concentrated.

The president shocked the US defence establishment and foreign allies in December when he announced his plan to withdraw the US from Syria, where a group of roughly 2,000 US soldiers have been stationed.

Mr Trump had said he wanted to pull out US soldiers within 30 days, but he later slowed the withdrawal after several key resignations. The former US defense secretary Jim Mattis announced he was resigning from his position in the president’s cabinet.

Mr Pompeo’s remarks came during the first meeting of senior coalition officials since Mr Trump’s announcement, which included Turkey, France, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, and Iraq.

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Iraq’s foreign minister Mohamed al-Hakim called on those countries to help expose “sleeper cells” during that meeting in order to restore stability.

Mr Pompeo said that Isis has kept a strong presence in Iraq, and that it could be attempting to launch a clandestine resurgence.

“The coalition must continue to support the government of Iraq in its efforts to secure the liberated areas of that country,” Mr Pompeo said to Mr Hakim. “Mr Foreign Minister, we’re with you.”

Reuters contributed to this report

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