raqqa gabriel chaim 2
Raqqa drone video shows ISIS execution square
01:42 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

American officials have not yet formally announced that the fight is won

"I totally changed rules of engagement," Trump said

Washington CNN  — 

President Donald Trump took credit for the fact that ISIS is in retreat during an interview Tuesday, claiming that ISIS wasn’t on the run before because “you didn’t have Trump as your president.”

The comment comes as US-backed forces fighting ISIS in Raqqa said “major military operations” in the city have ended and that the jihadists have lost control of their self-declared capital.

American officials have not yet formally announced that the fight is won, but the development marks a significant moment for the war on ISIS.

“I totally changed rules of engagement. I totally changed our military, I totally changed the attitudes of the military and they have done a fantastic job,” Trump said on “The Chris Plante Show.” “ISIS is now giving up, they are giving up, there are raising their hands, they are walking off. Nobody has ever seen that before.”

When Plante asked why that hadn’t happened before, Trump took the bait.

“Because you didn’t have Trump as your president,” he said. “It was a big difference, there was a big, big difference if you look at the military now.”

Once Raqqa is completely liberated, US-backed forces will have claimed two of their most significant battlefield victories against ISIS while Trump has been president – the other being the defeat of ISIS in Mosul, Iraq this summer.

Touting his administration’s success in the fight against ISIS is nothing new for Trump who – according to senior defense officials – turned to the Pentagon earlier this year to raise the public profile of efforts to defeat the terror group on the battlefield.

But Trump has often skimmed over the fact that the ISIS campaign began under former President Barack Obama – including operations to retake both ISIS strongholds in Iraq and Syria.

In May, Trump’s top generals held a news conference to emphasize the impact of changes made since Trump ordered a review of the ISIS strategy when he took office. It was the news conference the President wanted, officials told CNN at the time.

“Because you didn’t have Trump as your President”