Can Trump Claim Credit for a Waning Islamic State? - New York Times

Now, as an American-backed militia declared on Tuesday that it had liberated Raqqa, Syria, the capital of the extremists’ self-proclaimed caliphate, the Islamic State’s territory has dwindled to no more than 9,300 square miles.For months, Mr. Trump has demanded credit for a stepped-up military campaign that has weakened the Islamic State, claiming repeatedly that he has done “far more against ISIS in nine months” than President Barack Obama did during his entire administration.Yet experts said it was always anticipated that the three-year war against the Islamic State that was started by Mr. Obama in 2014 would reach this point, and military officials are quick to praise local troops and fighters for battleground victories.The Run-UpThe podcast that makes sense of the most delirious stretch of the 2016 campaign.“Justby looking at the map, the losses this year are off the scale compared to previous years,” said Columb Strack, an analyst at the research firm IHS Markit, which has been tracking the territory that the Islamic State has surrendered.But, he added, “I haven’t seen any major differences in the U.S. approach against the Islamic State.”Theferocity of Operation Inherent Resolve, the American campaign against the Islamic State, has accelerated in nearly every way over the past year.In the spring, Mr. Trump loosened the rules of battlefield engagement to give American commanders on the ground more authority in day-to-day decisions in fighting the Islamic State.Rather, they reflect an incremental increase that shifted as the fighting moved from sparsely-populated areas to urban centers.As of Oct. 16, the latest numbers available, the American-led military coalition that is fighting the Islamic State had carried out an estimated 28,051 airstrikes since 2014, according to the United States Central Command.


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