WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump said the US military and its allies will probably control all territory once held by Islamic State by next week.
“It should be formally announced sometime probably next week that we will have 100% of the caliphate,” Trump said Wednesday at a meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS in Washington. “You can’t do better than we’ve done militarily.”
Trump and Secretary of State Michael Pompeo have sought to reassure allies that the promised US troop withdrawal from Syria doesn’t mean they are being left behind in the fight against Islamic State. Even though the US and allies have won nearly all the territory Islamic State had controlled, thousands of fighters remain dispersed in the region, intelligence officials have said.
“We will work together for many years to come,” Trump added.
The meeting came one day after Trump renewed his pledge to bring US troops home from conflicts abroad, saying “great nations do not fight endless wars.”
Pompeo, speaking earlier Wednesday at the event, vowed that the US will continue to seek the permanent defeat of Islamic State.
“It is a tactical change – it is not a change in mission,” Pompeo said. “It simply represents a new stage in an old fight.”
ISIS in Iraq
Pompeo set out a series of goals for the coalition, including the removal of all Iranian-led forces in Syria and the fostering of a political solution to the eight-year conflict in line with United Nations Security Council resolutions. But he also pressed other nations to do more, saying they must take back and prosecute their fighters who have been captured in Syria and boost spending to help stabilise the country and clear landmines.
“Now is the time for all of us, not just America, to put our money where our mouth is,” Pompeo said.
Following Pompeo, Iraq Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali Al-Hakim called for more “logistical and technical support” to hold ISIS fighters accountable for attacks on Iraqis, particularly ethnic and religious minorities, but also stressed that the task there must move toward stabilisation and not just open warfare. Pompeo said the terror group “retains a real presence” in Iraq.
“We are in the process of moving from military action to security and intelligence operations,” Al-Hakim said.