Defense Dept: There are still 18,000 ISIS fighters. There's no "victory" as Trump claims
U.S.-backed forces in Syria and Iraq are facing a difficult struggle against thousands of ISIS fighters, a new report from the Department of Defense reveals.
"The report, produced by the department’s office of inspector general, found that between April and June the so-called Islamic State consolidated its power in Iraq and mounted a resurgence in Syria," CNBC reported on Thursday.
Trump has repeatedly claimed that ISIS and its caliphate have been completely defeated. He reiterated the claim in a July interview with C-SPAN.
"We've defeated, as you know, the caliphate in Syria — I did that because I did that, I wanted to do that — 100 percent of the caliphate," Trump said. "When I was at 99%, people said, 'Oh, you can't pull out, you can't pull out.' Well, when I took it over it was a mess. Anyway, and defeated 100% caliphate."
That isn't true and lives are in danger.
The new report's executive summary bears the headline "Iraqi and U.S.-backed Syrian forces struggle to contain the ISIS insurgence." It notes that ISIS "solidified its insurgent capabilities in Iraq and was resurging in Syria this quarter."
The U.S. military reported to the inspector general that ISIS "is able to operate as an insurgency in Iraq and Syria in part because the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) remain unable to sustain long-term operations against ISIS militants."
The inspector general's report relays the U.S. military's findings that Syrian forces, along with the Iraqis, have been unable to pick up the slack. The Syrian forces have frequently requested American help since "to confront ISIS's 'resurgent cells.'"
ISIS militants are using tactics like " targeted assassinations, ambushes, suicide bombings, and the burning of crops" in the region.
"ISIS likely retains between 14,000 and 18,000 'members' in Iraq and Syria, including up to 3,000 foreigners," the report noted – a far cry from Trump's triumphant proclamations.
Trump keeps claiming that he presided over a major victory against ISIS.
The reality is that his chaotic approach was not informed by information and advice from American military leaders. His decisions have left crucial allies in the Middle East and their citizens vulnerable to ISIS, who continues to mount regular attacks.
People will continue to be hurt and killed while Trump continues his hollow victory lap.
Published with permission of The American Independent. Attribution: Oliver Willis.