Feb. 7 (UPI) — President Donald Trump said the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq should be completely defeated as early as next week in a speech to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS ministerial Wednesday.
After stating in his State of the Union address Tuesday night that the United States and its allies have liberated “virtually all” territory controlled by IS in Iraq and Syria since he became president, Trump told the representatives from the 79 members of the global coalition that he was awaiting “the official word” that the militant group has been fully defeated.
“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,” Trump said using an alternate acronym for the group. “It should be formally announced sometime probably next week that we will have 100 percent of the caliphate.”
The president’s remark came as he looks to move forward with plans to withdraw about 2,000 troops from Syria and Afghanistan. The decision put Trump at odds with former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who announced his resignation shortly after the plan was revealed and some lawmakers, including Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who introduced an amendment rebuking the plan to a Middle East policy bill passed by the Senate on Tuesday.
Trump briefly referenced the plan during his speech Wednesday, saying he is looking forward to “giving our brave warriors in Syria a warm welcome back home.”
Despite his confidence that IS would soon be defeated in the region, Trump said that “sick” and “demented” people will always remain there “no matter how well we do militarily.”
He added however that IS has been “really set back” by the loss of territory.
“They can no longer extract natural resources because they no longer control the land or the area. They can no longer tax the citizens in that area because they no longer have that area, or steal ancient artifacts or destroy ancient artifacts, as they’ve been doing,” Trump said.
Trump also commended the 30 other nations contributing to the battle against IS, including Germany, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
“The struggle against terrorism is a shared fight. We do it together,” Trump said. “If we don’t do it together, it can never be the same. Everyone must do their part and contribute their fair share.”