The Pentagon won’t say if the fight against ISIS in Syria is over (It isn’t)

news
Vice President Mike Pence: 'ISIS Has Been Defeated'

The Pentagon's chief spokesman is refusing to say whether the last ISIS stronghold in Syria has fallen a day after President Donald Trump announced the caliphate's demise for the fourth time in as many months.

"Wherever ISIS exists, we will continue to pursue them with our partners and allies in the region," Charles Summers told reporters on Thursday at a Pentagon media event.

When asked if the fight to clear ISIS from Syria's Middle Euphrates River Valley has ended, Summers replied, "We continue to fight against ISIS wherever they may be."


Fellow Pentagon spokesman Tom Crosson clarified afterward that the U.S. military is not preparing to attack ISIS in parts of Syria controlled by Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad or Russian, Iranian, and Hezbollah forces.

"While the Department of Defense has struck targets of opportunity west of the Euphrates in the past, our strategy has not changed,"Crosson said. "We are maintaining our focus in the east and south to eradicate ISIS in the collective self-defense of Iraq and U.S. national self-defense."

U.S. officials confirmed to Task & Purpose that Syrian Democratic Forces are still clearing ISIS from its last strongholds in Baghouz, Syria.

SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali tweeted on Thursday that the U.S.-backed group had not yet announced that all of ISIS' former territory had been liberated.

Bali reporters on Thursday that the SDF was mopping up the last remnants of resistance in Baghouz, according to Reuters. The U.S. allies intend to declare victory after thy finish checking for ISIS fighters hidden in tunnels and caves as well as clearing mines and booby traps.

Speaking at an Army tank plant in Lima, Ohio, Trump predicted on Wednesday that ISIS' former caliphate would be gone "as of tonight."

Trump has made such announcements before: On Dec. 19, 2018, Trump announced, "We have defeated ISIS in Syria" and vowed to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria.

Then, on Feb. 15, the president predicted that the eradication of ISIS' former caliphate, "Will be announced over the next 24 hours."

On Feb. 28, Trump told service members in Alaska that ISIS had lost "100 percent" of its former territory.

In his latest pronouncement of ISIS's defeat, Trump showed his audience two maps showing how much the former caliphate has shrunk. ISIS territory was marked in red.

"Now you look at it and there's no red," Trump said. "No red."

The classification markings on the maps were blacked out. When asked on Thursday if the maps the president showed were classified, Summers said, "I don't have anything for you on that."

UPDATE: This story was updated on March 21 after Pentagon spokesman Tom Crosson clarified that the U.S. military is not preparing to attack ISIS in parts of Syria controlled by the regime and its allies.

SEE ALSO: CENTCOM commander Gen. Votel: ISIS will be back

WATCH NEXT: President Trump Discusses Syria

The book "Strange Defeat" details how France was conquered by Nazi Germany in 1940, but it could just as well describe President Donald Trump's record as commander in chief.

For someone who crows about winning all the time, the president seems to lose quite a bit. Since October 6, he has given Turkish President Recep Tayyip everything he has ever wanted by abandoning the U.S. military's best allies in Syria, allowing Turkey to establish a safe zone along its border with Turkey that expels all Kurdish forces, and withdrawing most U.S. troops from northeast Syria – allowing Russia to fill the vacuum.

What did he get in return? He gets to gloat that he made good on his campaign promise to end one of the U.S. military's commitments overseas and bring the troops home. (Although, a better way of saying it is that he allowed Turkey to chase out U.S. forces, who had to leave Syria so quickly that they did not have time to take high value ISIS prisoners into custody and they had to bomb one of their own ammunition dumps.)

Read More Show Less
U.S. Military Academy Class of 2022 conducted a 12 mile road march as family and former graduates cheered them on, concluding six weeks of Cadet Basic Training Aug. 13, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Matthew Moeller)

Search efforts are underway to find a West Point cadet, who has gone missing along with his M4 carbine, the U.S. Military Academy announced on Sunday.

"There is no indication the Cadet poses a threat to the public, but he may be a danger to himself," a West Point news release says.

Academy officials do not believe the missing cadet has access to any magazines or ammunition, according to the news release, which did not identify the cadet, who is a member of the Class of 2021.

Read More Show Less
Soldiers from the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division in their Bradley Fighting Vehicle during Marne Focus at Fort Stewart, Ga. during the week of Oct. 14, 2019 (U.S. Army photo)

Three soldiers were killed and another three injured when their Bradley Fighting Vehicle rolled over during a training exercise at Fort Stewart in Georgia on Sunday morning, Army officials announced.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper addresses reporters during a media briefing at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., October 11, 2019. (Reuters/Erin Scott)

KABUL (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived in Afghanistan on Sunday in a bid to bring talks with the Taliban back on track after President Donald Trump abruptly broke off negotiations last month seeking to end the United States' longest war.

Esper's trip to Kabul comes amid questions about the United States' commitments to allies after a sudden withdrawal of U.S. troops from northeastern Syria and Trump's long-time desire to get out of foreign engagements.

Read More Show Less
Ummmmmm what? (Twitter)

Mark Esper is the third person after James Mattis and Patrick Shanahan to helm the Pentagon since Donald Trump became president, and he's apparently not making much of an impression on the commander-and-chief.

On Sunday, Trump sent a very real tweet on "Secretary Esperanto," which is either a reference to a constructed international language developed more than 130 years ago and only spoken on the PA system in Gattaca or an egregious instance of autocorrect.

Read More Show Less