In a briefing on Dec. 21, 2017, Brett McGurk, special presidential envoy for the global coalition to counter ISIS, said that about 98 percent of the land comprising the ISIS caliphate had been recovered by coalition forces.
“And significantly, 50 percent of all the territory that ISIS has lost, they have lost in the last 11 months, since January,” McGurk said. “So 50 percent of all the territorial losses against ISIS have come in the last 11 months over the course of 2017.”
The overarching policy to combat ISIS was begun under President Barack Obama, when on Oct. 17, 2014, the Department of Defense established Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve, a coalition of more than 60 partners. According to O’Hanlon, “Many of the successes of the air campaign, the tightening on movements of ISIS money and people, occurred under Obama.”
Recaptured land is only one measure for gauging the coalition effort. According to U.S. Air Forces Central Command data, as of the end of February, two-thirds of the sorties in which at least one weapon was released took place under Obama. And nearly 60 percent of the more than 100,000 missiles, bombs and other explosives released during the campaign came under Obama as well.
Indeed, the offensive to recapture ISIS’ de facto capital city of Raqqa began in November 2016, under Obama, and by late December of that year, Voice of America was reporting that U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces had made significant advances in the campaign. Ultimate victory there was not declared until October 2017, under Trump.