On January 7th, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the US has destroyed 99% of ISIS’ caliphate, reinforcing Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria, according to the Washington Exaimner.
“We’ve taken down 99 percent of the caliphate. Ninety-nine percent of the caliphate. That should be the first sentence in every story. Right? Everybody agree?” Pompeo told reporters as he was leaving for his Middle East round. “Anybody dispute the facts? This has been an enormously successful campaign.”
Mike Pompeo also dismissed comparisons to the US withdrawal from Iraq under the Obama administration in 2011, which ultimately led to the rise of ISIS.
“I am confident we will continue to ensure that the kind of rise ISIS had under the Obama administration doesn’t occur again,” Pompeo said. “The threat from radical Islamic terrorism is going to be with us for a while, and we’re determined to stay at it and continue to make sure that the resurgence of large land-based caliphates like ISIS don’t happen on our watch.”
While there are little doubts that ISIS was largely defeated in both Syria and Iraq, Popmeo’s “99%” is probably based on some false data or he just forgot to take a look at some maps, which could be easily found online.
This map shows the military situation in Syria on June 15, 2015:
This map shows the military situation in Syria on January 8, 2019:
If some person compares the aforementioned maps, he will find that the US operations took place in the northeastern part of Syria only. The rest of the country was cleared from ISIS as a result of operations by the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance and, in the event of the al-Bab area, Turkey.
US President Donald Trump in December announced that ISIS had been defeated and US troops would be withdrawn. Since then, on January 7th he tweeted that the US will “leave at a proper pace while at the same time continuing to fight ISIS.”
White House National Security Adviser John Bolton also said that a US withdrawal can only happen after Turkey agrees to not attack the US-backed Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria.
On January 7th, Pentagon spokesperson Cmdr. Sean Robertson said that the US-led coalition against ISIS in Iraq and Syria has “approved framework for the withdrawal of forces from Syria and is now engaged in executing that withdrawal.”
“That framework is conditions-based and will not subject troop withdrawal to an arbitrary timeline.”
It is yet unclear whether the US withdrawal will happen, right now it appears that it would be slowed down, possibly to a standstill.