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‘99% of ISIS caliphate taken down,’ Mike Pompeo says

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo speaks to the traveling press shortly after departing Joint Base Andrews, January 7, 2019. Secretary Pompeo will travel to Amman, Jordan; Cairo, Egypt; Manama, Bahrain; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Doha, Qatar; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Muscat, Oman; and Kuwait City, Kuwait, January 8-15. (State Department photo by Ron Pryzsucha/ Public Domain)
January 08, 2019

Nearly all of the ISIS caliphate has been destroyed, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said this week, while also pointing out that the terrorist group will not be able to rise again like it has in the past.

“We’ve taken down 99 percent of the caliphate. Ninety-nine percent of the caliphate. That should be the first sentence in every story,” Pompeo told reporters aboard his plane to Jordan to meet with Middle East leaders, the Washington Free Beacon exclusively reported Tuesday. “Anybody dispute the facts? This has been an enormously successful campaign.”

Pompeo was responding to questions asked by the Free Beacon.

“I am confident we will continue to ensure that the kind of rise ISIS had under the Obama Administration doesn’t occur again,” he added.

The term caliphate refers to the physical land occupied by ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

President Donald Trump had tweeted late last year that the United States has “defeated ISIS,” and that the U.S. would be withdrawing all troops from Syria.

“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” Trump wrote mid-December.

Trump touted himself for the decision to remove troops at the end of 2018, tweeting, “If anybody but Donald Trump did what I did in Syria, which was an ISIS loaded mess when I became President, they would be a national hero.”

“ISIS is mostly gone, we’re slowly sending our troops back home to be with their families, while at the same time fighting ISIS remnants,” he continued.

“I campaigned on getting out of Syria and other places. Now when I start getting out the Fake News Media, or some failed Generals who were unable to do the job before I arrived, like to complain about me & my tactics, which are working. Just doing what I said I was going to do,” Trump added.

There had been reports prior to Trump’s earlier tweet that the U.S. military was preparing for a “full” and “rapid” withdrawal of more than 2,000 American service members in northeastern Syria, which would abruptly end the ground mission against ISIS there. It has since been reported that the troop withdrawal might not be as rapid as previously stated, but no details are being made available at this time.

The news was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, which said that U.S. officials have begun informing their partners in Syria of plans to immediately withdraw U.S. troops.

A defense official confirmed to CNN that plans were underway for a “full” and “rapid” withdrawal of U.S. troops. The official told CNN that the decision was rendered by President Trump.

There are approximately 2,000 U.S. service members in Syria who mainly help train local soldiers, including the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), to fight against ISIS.

U.S. troops have been in Syria fighting ISIS for more than four years.

While Trump has said in the past that he would like to withdraw all troops from Syria, former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had said this fall that troops would remain in Syria to complete their mission of defeating ISIS so the terrorist group cannot mount a comeback.

In April 2018, Mattis had said, “We do not want to simply pull out before the diplomats have won the peace. You win the fight — and then you win the peace,” Reuters had reported.

Mattis resigned as defense secretary late last year, citing differences of opinion with Trump. It is believed that their differing viewpoints on U.S. troops in Syria to fight ISIS was one of the final straws.

There are more than 5,000 U.S. troops stationed in Iraq, which neighbors Syria to the east.