WASHINGTON – President Trump said Wednesday the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria will be a “shorter fight” than anticipated.
“It will be a shorter fight than a lot of people are thinking about, believe me. We’ve made tremendous strides, as we discussed,” he said during a press conference in the Rose Garden after a meeting with the King of Jordan.
He added that leaders of Egypt and Iraq said more has been done in the “last six weeks than has been done in years with the previous administration, and believe me, we’re going to keep it that way.”
The U.S. has stepped up support for local forces fighting ISIS in both Iraq and Syria, both in air and ground support. U.S. troops have been striking ISIS from the air in both places, but also have advisers on the ground. The U.S. has also been striking ISIS with artillery in Iraq, as forces close in on the terrorist group in Western Mosul.
In Syria, U.S.-backed local forces – consisting of Syrian Kurds and Arabs, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces – are in the process of isolating Raqqa, ISIS’s de facto capital.
Trump reiterated his pledge to destroy ISIS. He also announced that the U.S. will contribute additional funds to Jordan for humanitarian assistance. More than five million Syrian refugees have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan, as well as to Europe and the U.S.
“This aid will help countries like Jordan host refugees until it is safe for them to return home. The refugees want to return home. I know that from so many other instances. They want to return back to their home, and that’s the goal of any responsible refugee policy,” he said.
Abdullah, who served in the Jordanian special forces, agreed with Trump that there were gains in both Iraq and Syria against ISIS.
“We are seeing very recently tremendous gains on the ground in Raqqa and Mosul… I think that the war is being won on the ground.”
However, both said there is more work to be done against terrorists outside of both countries.
“As far as ISIS is concerned, the United States will work with whoever it’s appropriate to work with to totally eradicate ISIS and other terrorists,” Trump said. “By the way, ISIS is one group, but others have formed. Frankly, they’re all over the place. We will do what we have to do to eradicate terrorism.”
Abdullah said ISIS would likely move other places as forces close in Mosul and Raqqa.
“Terrorists are on the move. They’ll be on the move inside of Iraq and inside of Syria, so that we have to make sure that we adapt our plans accordingly and they move beyond borders, beyond our region and elsewhere,” he said.
“Terrorists have no respect for borders and religions and people, so it’s — the seriousness of how we do this holistic approach, as I’ve mentioned several times,” he added.
“And what I’m really delighted is that the understanding by the president and the administration in how to deal with this globally,” he said.
“And I think you’re seeing a move in the right direction because the policy now is being charted out and my discussions with the Defense secretary and the foreign secretary allows us to be then able to decide how we adapt ourselves in the region to be able to come in line with international diplomacy.”