During President Donald Trump’s first year in office, the Islamic State has experienced significant losses in both their total manpower and the amount of territory they hold, and Defense Department estimates suggest that nearly twice as many people have been liberated under Trump’s watch than during the last 28 months of former commander in chief Barack Obama’s presidency.
Since suffering a major loss on January 25, when ISIS lost control of East Mosul in Iraq, a series of significant defeats have set the terrorist group back over the past 11 months.
According to Department of Defense figures, as reported by the Washington Examiner, not only have twice as many people been liberated during Trump’s first year, but more than twice the territory has been reclaimed as well.
When Trump was inaugurated on January 20, ISIS claimed approximately 35,000 fighters and had control of around 17,500 square miles in Iraq and Syria.
As of December 21, estimates suggest there are only 1,000 fighters, and the amount of occupied territory has decreased to just 1,900 square miles. Plus, the land that ISIS holds in Iraq and Syria is largely barren desert, with few people living in the area.
The counter-ISIS campaign began in September 2014. At the end of Obama’s presidency in January 2017, US-backed forces took back 13,200 square miles of territory in Iraq and Syria, liberating approximately 2.4 million people.
Since Trump took office, another 26,800 square miles have been taken back, and an additional 5.3 million people liberated.
ISIS had claimed the city of Mosul as its capital. They began to lose control of the city in January, starting in the east, with the western side falling in June. The defeat came after an eight-month period that one top US commander referred to as “the most significant urban combat to take place since World War II.”
Once ISIS lost control of Mosul, Col. Ryan Dillion, chief US spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, a US-led coalition, said, “It just snowballed, and it turned into where we are right now, with a full liberation of Iraq and, in Syria, continuing to chase down ISIS elements, the remnants of ISIS elements, in Syria.”
Dillon also asserts that ISIS has “not regained a single meter of those territories,” resulting in a 98 percent loss of territory for the terrorist group.
Additional victories in Tal Afar, Hawija, and Al Qaim in Iraq continued ISIS’s downfall, with another significant blow being dealt when US-back Syrian fighters took Raqqa, another city ISIS claimed as a capital.
Some officials credit Trump’s policy changes for allowing them to make significant gains.
“These delegations of tactical authority from [Trump] has really made a difference on the ground,” said White House special envoy Brett McGurk. “I’ve seen that with my own eyes.”
ISIS is still considered a threat in the region, even as their numbers and influence dwindle.
“So, right now, clearly ISIS is getting broken,” said Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to reporters on December 15. “I think there’s still problems; the fight is not over with them, don’t believe it when somebody says that ISIS is completely down. We’re continuing to fight them; they’re on the run, they can’t hold against our alliance at all.”