The White House said Friday the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has lost all of its territory in Syria, an announcement that has long been promised by President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate GOP budget ignores Trump, cuts defense Trump says he’ll nominate Stephen Moore to Fed White House: ISIS territory in Syria has been 100 percent eliminated MORE.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters traveling aboard Air Force One that acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanWhite House: ISIS territory in Syria has been 100 percent eliminated Overnight Defense: Top Marine warns border deployment could hurt readiness | McSally aims for sexual assault reforms in defense bill | House to vote on measure opposing transgender ban | New warning over F-35 sale to Turkey On The Money: Trump rolls dice on uncertain economy | 737 crisis tests Boeing’s clout in Washington | Watchdog group pushes 2020 candidates for 10 years of tax returns MORE briefed Trump on the development during the flight.
Sanders showed reporters a map of Syria demonstrating ISIS’s territorial losses and Trump later handed a copy to reporters, saying it demonstrates that the caliphate has been eliminated “as of last night.”
“You guys can have the map. Congratulations. Just spread it around,” Trump told reporters on the tarmac in West Palm Beach, Fla., where he is spending the weekend at his nearby Mar-a-Lago club.
“There’s ISIS, and that’s what we have right now,” he added, pointing to an area without any red ISIS-held territory.
Sanders referred questions to the Defense Department, adding that the Pentagon “made the call” that ISIS had been eliminated completely in Syria.
“The territorial caliphate has been eliminated in Syria,” she said.
The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The development marks an achievement for the Trump administration in the years-long fight against the extremist group, but U.S. officials and lawmakers have warned that ISIS still poses a threat.
Trump has said for months that ISIS has been “100 percent” territorially defeated, even though the announcement was just made on Friday. His comments have angered members of Congress who fear that the president is underestimating the threat and declaring victory prematurely.
The president said during a March 3 speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference that officials would make the announcement “probably today or tomorrow” that “we will actually have 100 percent of the caliphate in Syria.”
“The caliphate is gone, as of tonight,” Trump said Wednesday during a speech at an Ohio tank plant. “Pretty good. That’s pretty good, right?”
–Updated 12:40 p.m.