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Trump: It will be over tonight!
By Jeaneane Payne

President Donald Trump on Wednesday said ISIS will be “gone by tonight” as he held up a pair of maps that he claimed shows the dramatic reduction of the Islamic State’s presence in Syria since his election in 2016.

“When I took it over, it was a mess,” Trump said.

He pointed to the bottom map which he claims depicted ISIS presence in Syria today. "There is no red. In fact, there's actually a tiny spot which will be gone by tonight."

In December 2018 Trump made an announcement that he planned to pull thousands of U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan. He later agreed to leave 400 troops in Syria.

An ISIS encampment was seized on Tuesday by U.S.-backed Syrian forces after hundreds of fighters surrendered overnight. The last village held by ISIS in Syria is Baghouz. Trump says that ISIS group will be gone by tonight.

If this occurs, the Caliphate that ISIS tried to establish will no longer be in existence.

The Sunni branch of Islam stipulates that, as a head of state, a caliph may come to power in one of four ways: either through an election, through nomination, through a selection by a committee, or by force. Followers of Shia Islam, however, believe a caliph should be an Imam chosen by God from the Ahl al-Bayt (the "Family of the House", referring to Muhammad's family). Shia Islam is based on the Quran. The battle for the Caliphate will now be between the Sunnis and the Shias. Sunni Islam is the world's largest religious denomination, followed by Catholicism. The history of Sunni-Shia relations has often involved violence, dating back to the earliest development of the two competing sects.

President Trump takes office

As soon as President Trump took office, strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, an operation to destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Over a period of several months in 2016, the U.S. military made 2,176 strikes in Syria. They destroyed fighting positions, mortar systems, vehicles, anti-air artillery systems, heavy machine guns, and explosives caches; damaged ISIS supply routes; tunnels and bridges; communication towers, bomb factories, pipelines, oil tanks, observation points, sniper positions, supply routes, weapons depots; suppressed ISIS tactical units and tactical vehicles, destroyed several ISIS headquarters.

Examples of some of the strikes included:

October 9, 2017
• 51 strikes engaged four ISIS tactical units; destroyed 50 fighting positions, a tactical vehicle, six vehicles, a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device and four command-and-control networks.

September 25, 2017
• A total of 56 strikes. 29 strikes engaged seven ISIS tactical units and destroyed 20 fighting positions, 22 vehicles, three ISIS headquarters, a command and-control node; and suppressed three fighting positions. An additional 27 strikes engaged four ISIS tactical units, destroyed 29 fighting positions and three vehicles and suppressed a fighting position.

September 13, 2017
• A total of 73 strikes. 56 strikes engaged 17 ISIS tactical units; destroyed 56 fighting positions, three logistics nodes and two vehicles; and suppressed a fighting position. An additional 16 strikes engaged three ISIS tactical units and destroyed 17 fighting positions and a logistics node.

September 11, 2017
• A total of 54 strikes. 34 strikes engaged eight ISIS tactical units; destroyed 21 fighting positions, 16 vehicles, four heavy machine guns, two command-and-control nodes, a logistics node and engineering equipment; and suppressed six fighting positions. 23 strikes additional engaged eight ISIS tactical units; destroyed 20 fighting positions, two logistics nodes and a vehicle; and suppressed two fighting positions.

August 30, 2017
• 46 strikes engaged 30 ISIS tactical units; destroyed 66 fighting positions, five heavy machine guns, five vehicles, three medium machine guns, three anti-air systems, two command-and-control nodes, an ISIS headquarters, a weapons cache, a staging area and a vehicle-borne bomb; damaged eight fighting positions; and suppressed two heavy machine guns.

Prior to Trump's presidency, a few occasional strikes were made in Syria against ISIS. After January 2017 it was full speed ahead.

president trump
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Sandrine Rogers relaxes during a break in flight operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz in the Persian Gulf, Oct. 3, 2017. Nimitz was deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ian Kinkead

Raqqa’s Liberation from ISIS

As the Syrian people celebrated the liberation of Raqqa, the United States was applauding the 73-member Global Coalition that supported this effort. The Syrian Democratic Forces and the Syrian Arab Coalition have finally seen ISIS’s caliphate crumble throughout Syria and Iraq.

American jets began bombing ISIS targets in Syria on September 23, 2014, and more than 20 targets in and around Raqqa were hit. The primary focus of the strikes were on the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa. Since that time there have been periodic strikes near that city. Since January 22, 2016 there were occasional strikes near Raqqah when U.S. troops struck an ISIL gas and oil separation plant. The single strikes occurred occasionally until May 11, 2017 when there were 11 strikes in one day. Since then, strikes began to accelerate and continued almost daily until the final strike occurred on October 14, 2017 when four strikes destroyed three ISIS lines of communication and a fighting position.

In January, 2018 ISIS was actively plotting terrorist attacks against our allies and our homeland in Raqqa. Nine short months later, it became out of ISIS’s control due to critical decisions President Trump made to accelerate the campaign. Over the next seven months, millions of people were liberated from ISIS’s brutal rule and working with our partners on the ground.

We cannot forget that this accomplishment also came at significant costs. The Syrian Democratic Forces suffered many losses along the way and we joined them in mourning the lives lost. We also mourned the U.S. service members, and others from the Coalition, who made the ultimate sacrifice of giving their life to rid the region of ISIS and protect our homeland.

In September, 2016 the U.S. Military conducted an airstrike in Syria which was meant for ISIS but killed Syrian troops. Following that strike, thousands of Syrians (both Christian and Muslim) fled the country. A young Christian man took his little brother and fled to Germany. A Muslim man also fled to Germany. At that time there was a great influx of Syrians in Germany. An organization was established to help them find employment. My son-in-law is department head for the engineering department of an international company headquartered in Germany. The company agreed to sponsor these three immigrants by providing housing, food, and jobs for the two young men. They were both assigned to the engineering department and placed under the supervision of my son-in-law. Each man informed my son-in-law that they would not work in the same department as the other because one was Christian and the other was Muslim. They were firmly told they would be working together regardless of their differences.

ISIS cruelty and barbarity cannot be overstated. We witnessed ISIS deliberately and consistently using civilians as human shields and leaving behind mines to maim and kill children and other civilians seeking only to return to their homes or schools. The barbaric nature of ISIS’s tactics left many scars and we have been supporting stabilization efforts in liberated areas to help these communities heal.

While we continue the fight to ensure ISIS is defeated militarily where it remains in Syria, the U.S. and other Coalition members have made every effort to remove explosives left by ISIS and to get critical humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations. We have also supported the efforts of the Raqqa Civil Council and other local Syrian actors to re-establish basic security and deliver essential services to stabilize communities, refurbish schools, and help facilitate the safe and voluntary return home of displaced Syrians.

This also marks the beginning of a new phase in the Syrian conflict. Ridding ISIS violence in Syria will allow the United States, our allies, and partners to focus even more on advancing UN-led diplomatic efforts, within the framework of UN Security Council Resolution 2254, aimed at reaching a genuine political transition that honors the will of the Syrian people.

ISIS’s loss of Raqqa does not mean our fight against ISIS is over. The Global Coalition will continue to draw on all elements of national power - military, intelligence, diplomacy, economic, law enforcement, and the strength of our communities — until all Syrians have been liberated from ISIS brutality and we can ensure that it can no longer export its terror around the world. The Coalition will continue its relentless campaign to deny ISIS safe haven anywhere in the world and sever its ability to recruit, move foreign terrorist fighters, transfer funds, and spread false propaganda over the internet and social media.

Today's news on ISIS

Today, March 21, 2017, the Department of State has amended the terrorist designations of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to include Amaq News Agency, Al Hayat Media Center, and other aliases. These aliases have been added to ISIS’s designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) under Section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under Executive Order 13224. Additionally the Department of State has reviewed and maintained the FTO designation of ISIS.

Amaq News Agency and Al Hayat Media Center are two media wings of ISIS. Amaq News Agency is part of the terrorist organization’s propaganda apparatus, and is used for claiming responsibility for ISIS or ISIS-inspired attacks, spreading terrorist messages online, and recruitment. Al Hayat Media Center is ISIS’s multilingual media outlet and is also used for recruitment purposes.

Today’s actions notify the U.S. public and the international community that Amaq News Agency and Al Hayat Media Center are aliases of ISIS. Terrorism designations expose and isolate organizations and individuals, and deny them access to the U.S. financial system. Moreover, designations can assist the law enforcement activities of the United States and other governments.

Published March 21, 2019

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