Trump says so-called Islamic State could be completely defeated by next week

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By Cristina Abellan Matamoros  with REUTERS
Trump says so-called Islamic State could be completely defeated by next week
Copyright  REUTERS

US President Donald Trump told a group of senior officials at the State Department on Wednesday that he expected a formal announcement as early as next week that the territory held by the so-called Islamic State group had been completely liberated.

“Their land is gone. It’s a big factor - their land is gone,” Trump told foreign ministers and other senior officials from 79 countries that have fought alongside the US in pushing out the extremist group in Syria and Iraq.

“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,” he said.

Among those gathered were foreign ministers from Turkey, France, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco and Iraq.

Back in December, Trump announced he was withdrawing all troops from Syria because the US had "defeated ISIS in Syria," adding that was the "only reason" to have troops on the ground there.

This claim was highly disputed by other world leaders who said the fight against IS was far from over.

During Wednesday's meeting, Trump did not back down his determination to bring the troops home: “We look forward to giving our brave warriors in Syria a warm welcome home.”

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, Trump said that "virtually" all the territory had been liberated from the control of the so-called Islamic State.