FACT CHECK: Donald Trump Claims He Defeated ISIS In 4 Weeks

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

Former President Donald Trump claimed during a March 5 speech that he defeated the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in four weeks.

Verdict: False

Trump claimed victory over ISIS in Syria in December 2018, nearly two years into his presidency. The last stretch of ISIS-held territory was liberated by US-backed forces in March 2019.

Fact Check:

Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, easily won the Florida Republican presidential primary, according to Politico.

During a March 5 speech, he claimed that he defeated ISIS in four weeks.

“For 20 years they were fighting ISIS. I got rid of ISIS in four weeks. I got rid of ISIS 100%,” Trump said during the interview. (RELATED: Image Claims TO Show US Building Naval Base In Gaza)

The claim Trump defeated ISIS in four weeks is false. When Trump took office in January 2017, ISIS had taken over a substantial part of Iraq and Syria, including the major city of Mosul, according to the Wilson Center. The battle of Mosul, for example, raged from October 2016 to July 2017, ending six months into Trump’s presidency, according to a 2019 Military Review journal article.

“After approximately five more months of increasingly intense combat, the coalition declared victory on 9 July 2017 from the site of the destroyed al-Nuri Mosque. Despite the declaration, fighting in isolated pockets—predicted to last three days—continued for another two weeks,” the authors wrote.

Over 95 percent of ISIS-held territory was retaken by November 2017, more than 10 months into Trump’s presidency, per the Wilson Center. The Operation Inherent Resolve spokesperson said in a December 2017 tweet that “ISIS has lost nearly ALL the territory they once held.”

Trump himself did not declare victory over ISIS in Syria until December 2018, nearly two years into his presidency, according to The Associated Press. In a December 2018 tweet, he stated that ISIS was the only reason why U.S. forces were in Syria.

Trump would later declare in February 2019 that US-backed forces retook 100% of the territory ISIS held in Syria, according to CNN. The last stretch of ISIS territory was taken in Syria by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and other allied troops in March 2019, NBC News reported.

Trump noted in multiple tweets in October 2019 that his administration defeated “100% of the ISIS Caliphate.” He later walked back that claim during an October 2019 speech and said 70% of ISIS was defeated, according to Roll Call.

The State Department issued a statement in March 2023 noting the fourth anniversary of the territorial defeat of ISIS. (RELATED: Instagram Video Makes Claim About Trump, Patton, MSNBC)

“Four years ago, the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh/ISIS and its local partners liberated the final stretch of territory controlled by Daesh/ISIS in Baghuz, Syria, a major milestone in the ongoing effort to ensure the terrorist group’s lasting defeat,” the statement partially reads.

While ISIS does not appear to hold any territory, the terrorist group is still active. In January 2024, it claimed credit for a pair of bombings in Iran, according to The Wall Street Journal. It also took credit for a bombing that killed four people during a Catholic Mass in the Philippines, Al Jazeera reported.

Check Your Fact reached out to a Trump spokesperson for comment.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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