According to Stars and Stripes, a US-backed force in Syria on Saturday was hours away from surrounding the last ISIS fighters in an area less than a square mile in eastern Syria.
The capture of the last “caliphate” warriors, in the village of Baghouz, should mark the conclusion of the 4-year war to eradicate ISIS, which only five years ago, in 2014, controlled as much as a third of Syria and Iraq. Or, as a Kurdish commander with the Syrian Democratic Forces named Ciya Furat put it Saturday, “We will very soon bring good news to the whole world.”
And so, early Sunday morning, a victorious President Donald Trump tweeted:
“The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 ISIS fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial. The Caliphate is ready to fall. The alternative is not a good one in that we will be forced to release them… The US does not want to watch as these ISIS fighters permeate Europe, which is where they are expected to go. We do so much, and spend so much – [It’s] time for others to step up and do the job that they are so capable of doing. We are pulling back after 100% Caliphate victory!”
According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the Kurdish fighters are almost in full control of the last vestige of ISIS territory. An estimated 200 ISIS fighters surrendered on Friday, after about 240 others had surrendered earlier in the week.
But the Observatory also warned that there might still be ISIS fighters hiding in underground tunnels in the area. And, speaking of the underground, experts inside the US government believe ISIS maintains sleeper cells in Syria and Iraq, in advance of an insurgency once Western forces leave. Mind you, ISIS has been behind deadly attacks, mostly in Iraq, in recent months, more than a year after they had supposedly been defeated and expunged from their base in northern city of Mosul in 2017.