US President Donald Trump said that he expected a formal announcement as early as next week that the territory held by the so-called Islamic State group had been completely liberated.
Donald Trump stated that “The United States military, our coalition partners and the Syrian Democratic Forces have liberated virtually all of the territory previously held by ISIS in Syria and Iraq. It should be formally announced sometime, probably next week that we will have 100% of the caliphate.”
Maj. Gen. James Hecker, vice director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff stated that the withdrawal means “It is going to be difficult to keep up the pressure” on IS. “There will be a decrease in the amount of pressure that we will be able to apply.”
Earlier the U.S. officials have said that Islamic State has lost 99.5 per cent of its territory and has been reduced to fewer than 5 square kilometres in Syria, in the villages of the Middle Euphrates River Valley, where the bulk of the fighters are concentrated.
Mr Trump also announced that the US would withdraw half the troops from Afghanistan in about two months. Both decisions contradict carefully formulated strategies to defeat the Islamic State, al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban.