Brett McGurk, the Department of State’s senior envoy to the anti-Islamic State coalition, told the Washington Post that President Trump’s policies are directly responsible for the significant gains made by the anti-ISIS coalition in the last 6 months.
Brett McGurk, the Department of State’s senior envoy to the anti-Islamic State coalition, said Friday that Trump’s policies, including delegating decision-making to U.S. military commanders in the field, have “dramatically accelerated progress” against the militant group.
About a third of territory captured from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria since 2014 has been taken in the past six months, according to McGurk.
Trump publicized that assessment on Twitter, sharing The Washington Post’s story, headlined, “Under Trump, gains against ISIS have ‘dramatically accelerated.’”
McGurk told reporters Friday that ISIS losses in Iraq and Syria add up to about 27,000 square miles of territory from the group’s peak holdings in 2015. About 8,000 square miles of that territory have been retaken under Trump, he said.
The anti-ISIS envoy said delegating authority to commanders in theater has allowed U.S. forces to be more responsive to changing conditions on the ground. The administration’s “campaign of annihilation” — promoted by Defense Secretary James Mattis — has put U.S.-backed forces on the verge of victory in Raqqa, the principal ISIS stronghold in Syria. McGurk said Friday he expects that 2,000 militants “most likely will die in Raqqa.”
McGurk, who was envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition during the Obama administration, said Trump’s polices have also lead to progress on the humanitarian front. The displacement of civilians in Syria and Iraq has nearly stopped, and hundreds of thousands of previously displaced people have been able to return to their homes in territory once controlled by ISIS, McGurk said.
The progress has not come without cost. Civilian deaths in Syria and Iraq are up 60% in the last six months. But the terrorists have been using civilians as human shields for years. Taking the shackles off the military may have led to more civilian casualties, but it has also brought this phase of the war nearer to an end.
And it’s not like we’re targeting civilians like President Assad and the Russians. The collateral damage is a direct result of ISIS hiding behind the skirts of women. The terrorists hoped that international outrage about civilian deaths would drive the US out of Syria. Instead, it has encouraged members of the anti-ISIS coalition to redouble their efforts to end the carnage as quickly as possible.
With Raqqa on the brink of being captured by the coalition, strategists are looking ahead to the next phase of the conflict with ISIS which is more likely to be played out on the streets of Europe than on a battlefield in the Middle East. Estimates are that there will be up to 20,000 ISIS fighters that will survive being kicked out of Syria and Iraq. Some will almost certainly make their way to Europe and the US.
Their defeat will only embolden them to attack civilian targets around the world, making it much more difficult to wipe the scourge of ISIS off the face of the earth.
Sources: Daily Caller and AmericanThinker