Donald Trump says the last of the Islamic State’s territory in Syria will be freed by U.S.-backed forces ‘by tonight.’
Trump spoke as he left the White House and displayed maps of IS-held territory in Iraq and Syria on the day he was elected and as of Wednesday morning.
The most recent map shows what Trump says is a ‘tiny spot which will be gone by tonight.’ He says when he was elected, Syria was ‘a mess’ and awash in IS fighters.
U.S.-backed fighters battling to retake the last IS outpost in eastern Syria seized most of the last pocket of land on Tuesday.
Trump has previously announced the defeat of the group, but sleeper cells of fighters remain in Syria.
Trump says the U.S. will keep 400 troops in Syria indefinitely.
Boast: Donald Trump brandished a map showing ISIS territory on election day 2016 (top) and now (bottom) and took credit for dealing with a ‘mess’
Last battle: Smoke rises from the Islamic State’s last remaining position in the village of Baghouz during battles with the Syrian Democratic Forces in Baghouz today
Last few: Suspected Islamic State fighters and civilians are screened by members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the village of Baghouz today
Fighters in Syria Wednesay were scouring the last few hundred square yards of ISIS territory for landmines, secret tunnels and any hiding jihadists after pushing the terror group into their last sliver of land.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by the U.S., are clearing areas they captured yesterday as they reduced the ISIS ‘caliphate’ to a tiny patch of bombed-out scrapyard in eastern Syria.
An official with the fighters said there was calm and no clashes today as Syrian forces were seen singing, dancing and giving V-for-victory signs to celebrate ‘victory’ in Baghouz.
In one video released by Syrian forces a group of fighters are seen jigging in rhythm in the desert as they mark the ‘end of the ISIS caliphate’.
SDF soldiers were today women and children into trailer trucks on the hilltop over Baghouz, in a sign evacuations were ongoing today, while black smoke could be seen rising from the village.
The last diehard ISIS fighters continued clashing with the SDF on Tuesday night but the terror group is on the brink of defeat after holding a third of Syria and Iraq in 2014.
Last push: Smoke rises from the last besieged neighbourhood in the village of Baghouz, where ISIS have been reduced to their last sliver of land less than five years after they controlled a third of Syria and Iraq
Final battle: Heavy smoke rises above the Islamic State (IS) group’s last remaining position in the village of Baghouz during battles with the Syrian Democratic Forces
Syrian Democratic Forces gesture the ‘V’ for victory sign as they come back from the frontline in the battle against ISIS in Baghouz yesterday
Reduced to a burning scrapyard: ISIS fighters and followers have been steadily forced back to Baghouz after years of retreats in the face of military campaigns by an array of foreign and local forces. Pictures show the bombed-out remains of cars in the terror group’s last stronghold
At the height of its power the Islamic State’s ‘caliphate’ stretched from Baghdad in Iraq all the way across north eastern Syria in the west – the dwindling remains have been constricted into the town of Baghouz in the Deir’ez-Zur region of eastern Syria
The SDF says that it has seized a key encampment from the jihadists and that victory will come ‘very soon’. A map shows the territory held by ISIS two days ago
Maps show how ISIS fighters are retreating into an ever smaller pocket of land in Syria. The area in red was all the terror group had left yesterday
US-backed SDF fighters said they were even closer to driving ISIS out of Baghouz yesterday. A map shows the territory (in red) now held by the terror group
The extremists had retreated into a tiny parcel of land, with some reportedly having used their own children as human shields, after they were forced out of the camp where they had been holding out.
Pictures yesterday showed the burning remains of cars along the banks of the Euphrates river where ISIS fanatics have been desperately digging in over the last few months.
Hundreds of militants had surrendered on Monday, an SDF spokesman said, signalling the terror group’s collapse after months of stiff resistance.
The fighters also revealed they had captured a group of alleged terrorists suspected of being behind a suicide attack in northern Syria that left four Americans dead earlier this year.
The taking of the ISIS camp was a major advance but not the final defeat of the group in Baghouz, but fighters from Syrian forces were celebrating nonetheless.
‘I’m happy it’s over. Now I know my people are safe,’ said a fighter who identified himself as Walid Raqqawi who fought in the camp Monday night.
He said he is returning to his hometown of Raqqa to rest. Comrades from his unit sang and danced in celebration at an outpost in Baghouz, all saying they were looking forward to going home.
Hardened militant fighters holed up in the encampment have been mounting a last-stand defence of the enclave, all that is left of ISIS’s self-proclaimed ‘caliphate’ that once spanned a third of both Syria and Iraq.
The militants have been putting up a desperate fight, their notorious propaganda machine working even on the brink of collapse.
On Monday, ISIS issued a video showing its militants furiously defending the encampment, a junkyard of wrecked cards, motorcycles and tents.