The numbers don’t lie.
And as President Donald Trump concludes the end of his first year in office, he can proudly look back at the effect of the U.S.-led military campaign against ISIS under his command.
The terrorist group has lost fighters, territory and command and control facilities in Iraq and Syria, with most of the losses occurring under Trump’s administration.
“During 2017 over 60,000 square kilometers were liberated from ISIS across Iraq and Syria,” British Army Maj. Gen. Felix Gedney told the Pentagon press corps Wednesday, according to The Daily Caller. “More than 98 percent of the land once claimed by the terrorist group has been returned to the people.”
Colonel Ryan Dillon, in a Department of Defense press briefing, noted that “across Iraq and Syria, ISIS has lost nearly all of the territory they once held. And that’s more than 105,000 square kilometers. And they have not regained a single meter of those territories liberated by coalition partners. More than 7.7 million people are now free from ISIS.”
About 60 percent of the total of freed civilians were liberated just in 2017, according to Gedney, with 4.5 million Iraqis and Syrians out of the 7.7 million total since the beginning of the campaign being freed by the U.S.-backed coalition since Trump took office.
“On 1/20 – the day Trump was inaugurated – an estimated 35,000 ISIS fighters held approx 17,500 square miles of territory in both Iraq and Syria. As of 12/21, the U.S. military est the remaining 1,000 or so fighters occupy roughly 1,900 square miles..” @jamiejmcintyre @dcexaminer pic.twitter.com/OgYEuDgzD2
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 28, 2017
In fact, the U.S.-led coalition fighting the militant group said on Wednesday that less than 1,000 ISIS fighters remain in Iraq and Syria, Reuters reported. A 2014 CIA estimate put the terrorist group’s fighters at a number up to 31,500. Both Syria and Iraq declared victory over ISIS in recent weeks, with Christians in Iraq celebrating their first Christmas there since 2013.
The coalition killed nearly 130 “ISIS leaders or high value targets” just since Trump has been president, according to Gedney.
But while the physical caliphate has collapsed, U.S. military officials are on guard against the group’s insurgent roots and its ability to mount terror attacks.
“Although ISIS’ physical caliphate has crumbled, we fully expect the enemy to make a concerted effort to maintain their presence and influence in the virtual domain. While ISIS has been defeated as a conventional fighting force, we cannot forget their terrorist roots,” Dillon said at the Defense Department briefing. “We know this enemy is as adaptive and savvy as it is cruel and evil.”
Retired Gen. Jack Keane pointed out that the progress made against ISIS was only possible under Trump because of the “stark contrast” of his administration’s aggressive stance as compared to that of former resident Obama.
“[The Trump administration] made the strategic decision to crush ISIS as quickly as possible, that stands in stark contrast to the Obama decision,” he told FOX Business’ Trish Regan on “The Intelligence Report” on Wednesday.
“The truth is when ISIS rolled into Iraq in January 2014, they grew from several hundred fighters in 18 months to over 30,000. It took them 15 months before they ever did anything about the oil fields in Syria, which was ISIS’ main source of revenue,” he said, blaming the Obama administration for allowing the group to expand.
Keane easily pointed out how Trump’s approach made such a radical difference.
“One, change the rules of engagement to facilitate the use of military force more effectively,” he said. “Number two, make sure that we are not micromanaging our commanders the way the Obama White House did. Number three, give them the additional resources that the commanders have been asking for, so we gave them a significant amount of air power, we brought in artillery, and then we increased our special operations forces and advisers.”
Keane believes Trump has the right to take a “victory lap” over his administration’s achievements against ISIS.
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