After promising earlier this month that the ISIS-held territory in Syria would be completely eliminated, the White House announced that the caliphate was entirely eliminated as of Thursday evening. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders showed reporters a map displaying ISIS’s recent territory loss, according to The Hill.
As The Inquisitr previously reported, Trump claimed that the U.S. military had reclaimed the territory formerly held by ISIS. Both the Pentagon and Syria disputed the report. Then on Wednesday, Trump informed reporters that ISIS would be gone by the end of the night, according to Politico.
“The caliphate is gone, as of tonight. Trump said Wednesday. Pretty good. That’s pretty good, right?”
Sanders spoke with reporters aboard Air Force One while flying to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in West Palm Beach, Florida, where the president is spending the weekend, and claimed that the elimination had completed as predicted.
“The territorial caliphate has been eliminated in Syria,” she said, holding out a map that illustrated the claim.
She didn’t answer any reporter questions, instead pointing people to contact the Defense Department and saying that it was the Pentagon who had made the report.
Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan was on board the plane, according to Sanders, and had informed the president of the development. While hanging out on the tarmac after landing, Donald Trump also showed the map to reporters.
“You guys can have the map. Congratulations. Just spread it around,” Trump said.
He then pointed to a map showing the former territory versus the alleged current territory.
“There’s ISIS, and that’s what he have right now,” he said.
Sarah Sanders tells reporters on Air Force One that the territorial ISIS caliphate has been 100 percent eliminated in Syria, per pool. The WH provided this map pic.twitter.com/i2oXvgtehS— Saagar Enjeti (@esaagar) March 22, 2019
According to the report, ISIS once held territory in the region the size of Great Britain with millions of people within its borders. The United States began pushing the caliphate back under President Barack Obama and Trump has continued the fight. The final territorial battle took place in a small Syrian town called Baghouz. In order to accommodate thousands of civilian hostages, the caliphate removal was taken at a slow pace.
Trump has not always been clear about how the fight against ISIS in Syria is progressing. Last year, he claimed he was pulling all troops out of the country, but backtracked and said that he was leaving 400 troops in place. He has also claimed that ISIS would be “defeated” repeatedly.
While the Islamic State territory in Syria is eliminated, it is believed that ISIS fighters have merged with local populations and continue to fight. There appear to be over 14,000 fighters still active in the region.