politics

Trump Says U.S. Has ‘Won’ Against Islamic State in Syria, Iraq

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U.S. President Donald Trump prepares to sign H.R. 2810, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, during a signing ceremony in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on Dec. 12.

Photographer: SAUL LOEB/AFP Getty Images

President Donald Trump said the U.S. has won the fight against Islamic State terrorists in Syria and Iraq and is pursuing the extremists as they spread elsewhere.

“We’ve won in Syria, we’ve won in Iraq, but they spread to other areas and we’re getting them as fast as they spread,” Trump said Tuesday at the White House during a ceremony to sign defense policy legislation.

Trump spoke a day after the arrest of a Bangladeshi immigrant after a bombing at a New York City subway station. Police said the explosion was a botched suicide mission. The suspect, who was burned in the blast, told law enforcement officials at the hospital that he “did it for the Islamic State,” according to a criminal complaint.

Others also have been claiming triumph in the Middle East’s conflicts. Russian President Vladimir Putin made a surprise stop at an airbase in Syria on Monday to declare “victory” in his country’s two-year military campaign there, part of a whirlwind tour of the region aimed at demonstrating his growing influence at U.S. expense.

Putin celebrated the preservation of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s rule, despite U.S. demands for Assad’s removal. Putin’s willingness to back the Syrian leader against rebel groups helped reverse the course of a civil war that’s killed more than 400,000 people and sent millions more fleeing since it erupted in 2011.

While U.S. military officials say American troops must remain in Syria to guard against a resurgence of Islamic State forces there, Syria and Russia have said it’s time for them to go.

— With assistance by Henry Meyer, Stepan Kravchenko, and Andrey Biryukov

(Adds Putin’s remarks beginning in fourth paragraph.)
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