President Trump told ministers with the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Wednesday he anticipates an announcement sometime 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 in brief remarks. “But I want to wait for the official word. I don’t want to say it too early.”
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 also rebuked the president with a resolution decrying the move to withdraw troops swiftly from Syria and pointing out that such a move could jeopardize progress in the region.
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.”