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Islamic State group '100 percent' defeated in Syria, says Trump

US President Donald Trump talks to reporters before departing the White House [Getty]

Date of publication: 22 March, 2019

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President Donald Trump showed reporters two maps of the region - one showing large areas once held by the group and a second that showed no presence.
US President Donald Trump has said the Islamic State group has been "100 percent" defeated in Syria, despite reports of sporadic fighting continuing on the ground between coalition forces and the group's holdouts.

Trump made the comment as he showed reporters maps of the region - one showing large areas once held by the group and a second that showed the situation on Friday with no presence.

"The territorial caliphate has been eliminated in Syria," spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said, with the defence department also reportedly backing these claims.

IS-linked Telegram channels claimed that some militants had managed to escape Baghouz camp, and were continuing the fight in a nearby mountain, according to analyst Elizabeth Tsurkov.

President Trump has prematurely announced the defeat of Islamic State group on a number of occasions. Many analysts have pointed to the presence of IS sleeper cells in Syria and Iraq. 

In a tweet on Friday, President Trump said "There is nothing to admire about [IS], they will always try to show a glimmer of vicious hope, but they are losers and barely breathing".

On Wednesday, the president said the US will keep 400 troops in Syria "indefinitely" - including 200 close to Israel -backtracking on a December pledge for a complete military withdrawal.

US-backed Syrian-Kurdish forces battled today to flush out the final diehard Islamic State fighters in the group's last sliver of territory in Baghouz, eastern Syria.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) overran the battered area on Tuesday, combing the area. A US-led coalition backing the SDF carried out air strikes on the last IS fighters overnight on Friday.

In-depth: The future of US troops in Syria and Iraq

The SDF launched what it called its "final assault" against the jihadist’s last stronghold in Baghouz on 9 February. It seems that finally, after allowing thousands upon thousands of civilians to safely exit, the group is moments away from being defeated in Baghouz.

The SDF has said it still has to flush out fighters from the last tunnels and hideouts.

The group's loss of Baghouz would signal the territorial defeat of the "caliphate" in Syria but the jihadists still retain an insurgent presence in eastern Syria's vast dessert and continue to launch hitand-run attacks in SDF territory.

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