Donald Trump: last pocket of ISIS in Syria ‘gone by tonight’

US President Donald Trump has said the last pocket of Islamic State’s land would be “gone by tonight”.

Speaking to factory workers in Ohio, Nr Trump held up two maps of Syria – one covered in red representing territory held by the militant group when he was elected president in November 2016 and the other that had only a speck of red.

“The caliphate is gone as of tonight,” he claimed. 

Mr Trump has previously announced the defeat of the group, but sleeper cells of fighters have re-emerged.

US-backed Kurdish fighters said they were still searching territory captured from IS around the village of Baghouz and denied a report the jihadists had been finally defeated.

The final capture of the enclave near the Syria-Iraq border will mark the end of Islamic State territorial rule that once spanned a third of the two countries after years of military campaigns by the US, Britain and other international and local forces.

After weeks of fighting, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) took a big step towards capturing the besieged area on Tuesday when they seized an encampment where the jihadists had been mounting a last defence of the area.

“Combing continues in the Baghouz camp,” an SDF spokesman said today, after the Syrian Kurdish news outlet Hawar reported that the entire enclave had been captured and IS defeated.

“There is no truth (to the report of) the complete liberation of the village,” the official said.

The report on Hawar News, which is close to the Kurdish-led administration that runs much of northern Syria, was later removed from its website.

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