Daesh no longer holds any territory in Syria, US President Trump and White House announce despite Washington-backed SDF militants reporting fighting in eastern Baghouz, the terrorist group's last pocket in the war-torn country.
US President Donald Trump said on Friday that Daesh terror group has been "100 percent" defeated in Syria.
Trump made the comment as he showed reporters maps of the region –– one showing the 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," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said earlier, though officials said sporadic fighting continues on the ground between US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Daesh's holdouts.
The SDF is dominated by YPG which is the Syrian wing of the PKK, recognised as a terrorist group by the US, Turkey and the EU. US support for the SDF has strained ties with NATO ally Turkey.
ISIS uses the internet better than almost anyone, but for all of those susceptible to ISIS propaganda, they are now being beaten badly at every level....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 22, 2019
End of the so-called 'caliphate'?
The complete fall of the last Daesh stronghold in eastern Baghouz, Syria, would end Daesh's self-declared caliphate, which at its height stretched across large parts of Syria and Iraq.
Controlling territory gave it room to launch attacks around the world.
President Donald Trump said on Friday "it’s about time" that the group no longer controls territory in the region, after a campaign by US and coalition forces that spanned five years and two US presidencies, unleashed more than 100,000 bombs, and killed untold numbers of civilians.
TRT World's Yasin Eken reports from Turkish-Syrian border.
US officials, however, said the SDF militants have not announced any declaration of victory, and there was no announcement planned for Friday.
According to the officials, the SDF is moving slowly and carefully, and are willing to wait out the Daesh elements who are out of food and low on water.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss mission details.
TRT World's Courtney Kealy has more from Washington.
Trump displays maps
Trump showed reporters a map of Iraq and Syria that showed that the terror group no longer controlled any territory in the region.
"Here's ISIS [Daesh] on election day," he said, pointing to a swath of red area signifying the group's previous territorial gains, and then to one without any red, "Here's ISIS [Daesh] right now.”
Trump has been teasing the victory for days, most recently on Wednesday when he said the milestone would be achieved by that night, but sleeper cells of Daesh fighters have re-emerged.