West Palm Beach (United States) (AFP) – US President Donald Trump said Friday that the Islamic State jihadist group has been “100 percent” defeated in Syria.
Trump made the comment as he showed reporters maps of the region — one showing the large areas once held by the group and a second that showed the situation on Friday with no presence.
“There’s ISIS, and that’s what he have right now,” he said, pointing at the two maps.
Spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said “the territorial caliphate has been eliminated in Syria.”
The White House declaration came after days of bombing and other attacks by Kurdish-led forces to clear the final tiny pockets of resistance by Islamic State fighters in the village of Baghouz, where they made a last stand.
US-led coalition warplanes have been supporting local ground forces in the onslaught on Baghouz that began February 9, meeting fierce resistance from the jihadists and an unexpectedly large number of civilians hunkered down alongside the fighters.
IS, as ISIS is also known, declared a “caliphate” in June 2014 after seizing a vast swathe of territory larger than Britain straddling Iraq and Syria.
The loss of the Baghouz enclave would signal the demise of the “caliphate” in Syria, after its defeat in Iraq in 2017.
The jihadists still retain a shadowy presence in eastern Syria’s vast Badia desert.