Take that Obama! Trump takes credit for defeating IS
"I totally changed rules of engagement. I totally changed our military, I totally changed the attitudes of the military and they have done a fantastic job," Trump said on The Chris Plante Show.
"ISIS is now giving up, they are giving up, there are raising their hands, they are walking off. Nobody has ever seen that before."
When asked why that hadn't happened before, Trump declared: "Because you didn't have Trump as your president. It was a big difference, there was a big, big difference if you look at the military now."
A CNN report however questioned Trump's exact role. Quoting experts and officials, it said Trump failed to account for the fact that the campaign was launched under his predecessor Barack Obama, and failed to "highlight the fact that the fight in Iraq and Syria has long been led by an array of local forces -- with the US and coalition members acting in a supporting role".
The main change under Trump, who claimed he had a secret plan to defeat IS, seems to be more empowerment for the Pentagon especially with regard to the rules of engagement. Critics say this may be behind soaring civilian casualties in Syria and Iraq since he took office, while according to CNN, "it is difficult to credit that decision for the totality of the battlefield success" against IS.
|SDF announced on Tuesday that military operations in Raqqa have ended and that their troops have taken full control of the city|
Mustafa Bali, spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, said preparations are underway for a formal declaration of the liberation of Raqqa, after it is cleared of land mines.
SDF announced on Tuesday that military operations in Raqqa have ended and that their troops have taken full control of the city, once the heart of IS' self-styled caliphate. The US-led coalition cautioned that the clearing operations were not finished and that it estimated about 100 militants may still be hiding in the city.
On Wednesday, the spokesman for the US coalition, Col. Ryan Dillon, tweeted that 95 percent of the city is now under full control as clearing operations continue.
The coalition stressed that the SDF had been successful in keeping captured territories from IS because of its thorough clearing procedures that prevent typical IS counterattacks.
Brett McGurk, the top US envoy for the coalition battling Daesh, said he was in northern Syria to prepare for the defeat of the militants. He said the United States will help in clearing explosives as well as restoring services in the city.
McGurk posted a photograph Wednesday of surrendering IS militants, saying: "once purported as fierce, now pathetic and a lost cause."
|The fall of Raqqa deals a major defeat to the extremist group that has seen its territory steadily shrink since summer|
The fall of Raqqa deals a major defeat to the extremist group that has seen its territory steadily shrink since summer. Militants took over Raqqa, located on the Euphrates River, in 2014 and transformed it into the epicenter of their brutal rule.
But fighting against IS militants is not over. The group still holds territories to the south of Raqqa, along the border with Iraq in the oil-rich province of Deir az-Zour, and to the west in the central Homs province.
With input from AP