President Donald Trump on Wednesday said ISIS will be “gone by tonight” and held up a pair of maps to reporters that he claimed shows the near-total eradication of the Islamic State’s presence in Syria since his election in 2016.
One map highlighted in red the parts of Syria that the president said was held by the terrorist group on Election Day 2016. A second map showed present-day Syria, reportedly showing one “tiny” red spot.
POTUS on South lawn says ISIS is done and shows visual aid to prove it pic.twitter.com/jJQ0IUxxzC
— Brian J. Karem (@BrianKarem) March 20, 2019
“When I took it over it was a mess,” he told reporters. “Now, on the bottom, there is no red. In fact, there’s actually a tiny spot which will be gone by tonight.”
“This just came out 20 minutes ago,” he added. “So this is ISIS on Election Day, my election day, and this is ISIS now. So that’s the way it goes.”
— CSPAN (@cspan) March 20, 2019
In early February, Trump told representatives of the international coalition fighting the terrorist group that the U.S. would announce “sometime probably next week” that “100 percent of the caliphate” had fallen.
The president in December announced that “we have won against ISIS” and “it’s time for our troops to come back home.”
Trump said Wednesday that the U.S. will leave 200 troops in Syria and “200 people in another place in Syria closer to Israel for a period of time.”
Top administration officials have noted that the territorial defeat of ISIS will not mean the group is no longer a threat.
“We know right now that there are ISIS fighters scattered still around Syria and Iraq, and that ISIS itself is growing in other parts of the world,” national security adviser John Bolton said earlier this month. “The ISIS threat will remain.”