Almost one year after then-candidate Donald Trump made the promise to “bomb the hell out of ISIS,” experts are stunned at the speed that ISIS fighters have been run out of Iraq and Syria by U.S. troops, according to Fox News.
President Trump has let the military run the operation in the Middle East and has step aside to some extent, allowing Secretary of Defense James Mattis to do his job and do it well.
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At its peak, ISIS held land in Iraq and Syria that equaled the size of West Virginia, ruled over as many as 8 million people, controlled oilfields and refineries, agriculture, smuggling routes and vast arsenals. It ran a brutal, oppressive government, even printing its own currency.
The terror organization now controls just 3 percent of Iraq and less than 5 percent of Syria. Its self-styled “caliph,” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is believed to be injured and holed up somewhere along the lawless border of Syria and Iraq.
ISIS remains a danger, as members who once ruled cities and villages like a quasi-government now live secretly among civilian populations in the region, in Europe and possibly in the U.S. These cells will likely present a terrorist threat for years. In addition, the terrorist organization is attempting to regroup in places such as the Philippines, Libya and the Sinai Peninsula.
But the military’s job — to take back the land ISIS claimed as its caliphate and liberate cities like Mosul, in Iraq, and Raqqa, in Syria, as well as countless smaller cities and villages, is largely done. And it has taken less than a year.
Mattis said back in May that the strapped situation the military had been in under President Obama had been alleviated under Trump, and as a result, ISIS has fallen even faster than anyone could have anticipated.
“The leadership team that is in place right now has certainly enabled us to succeed,” Brig. Gen. Andrew Croft, the ranking U.S. Air Force officer in Iraq, told Fox News. “I couldn’t ask for a better leadership team to work for, to enable the military to do what it does best.”
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Now, experts say it’s just a matter of polishing them off for good.
Marine Col. Seth Folsom, who oversaw fighting in Al Qaim near the Syrian border, said that “the worst thing we could do” is fail to finish what was started.