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President Donald Trump spoke proudly of gains made in the fight against the Islamic State. He looked back to his pledge in 2017 to "extinguish ISIS from the face of the Earth."
"One year later, I am proud to report that the coalition to defeat ISIS has liberated very close to 100 percent of the territory just recently held by these killers in Iraq and Syria," Trump said.
According to data from IHS Markit, a private defense and security research firm, the area controlled by the Islamic State went from 90,800 square kilometers in January 2015 to 6,759 square kilometers in January 2018.
That’s a 93 percent reduction in territory, which is pretty close to 100 percent.
But Trump’s emphasis on the one-year time frame and territory "just recently held" by the Islamic State pushes his claim a bit. If that means since he took office, then the Islamic State’s losses are closer to 89 percent.
The success Trump described built upon strategy and attacks launched under President Barack Obama.
The campaign to defeat ISIS took shape in September 2014 under the name of Operation Inherent Resolve. According to U.S. Air Force Central Command data, coalition forces engaged the enemy over 33,000 times between the launch of the operation and November 2017. (The Air Force includes strikes taking place in August 2014.)
Counting only sorties in which at least one weapon was released, about three fourths of the action took place during the Obama years.
The Air Force reports over 104,000 missiles, bombs and other explosives dropped in the course of the campaign. About two-thirds of that came before Trump took office.
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a terrorism expert and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told PolitiFact in January that Trump devolved more authority to the tactical level on the battlefield, which sped up U.S. operations and produced "a real shift … that contributed to ISIS's precipitous collapse in mid 2017."
Trump said that after one year, coalition forces had freed almost 100 percent of the territory just recently held by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
According to data from a private defense and security group, the Islamic State controls 93 percent less terrority today than it did at the start of 2015, and 89 percent less since Trump took office.
The fight against the Islamic State began two years before Trump became commander in chief, and the radical militant group saw significant territorial losses by the end of 2016.
His words link the most recent gains too closely to actions taken during his time in office. We rate the statement Mostly True.
U.S. Air Force Central Command, Airpower Summary, December 2017
U.S. Air Force Central Command, Operation Inherent Resolve strike releases, accessed Oct. 26, 2017
U.S. Air Force Central Command, Airpower summary, Sept. 31, 2017
IHS Conflict Monitor, Islamic State loses 22 per cent of territory, March 16, 2016
BBC, Islamic State and the crisis in Iraq and Syria in maps, Oct. 21, 2017
Washington Post, Trump’s claim that he’s done more ‘by far’ than Obama in the fight against ISIS, Oct. 25, 2017
Email interview with Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Jan. 18, 2018
Email interview, Katherine Smith, communications, IHS Markit, Jan. 29, 2018
Email interview, Anthony Cordesman, chair of strategy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Oct 25, 2017
Email interview, William Braniff, executive director, National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, University of Maryland, Oct. 25, 2017
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