During US President Donald Trump's surprise visit to Iraq on 26 December, military commanders warned him that Daesh* has not entirely been defeated in Syria despite his claims to the contrary, CNN cited sources familiar with the matter as saying.
According to the sources, the commanders told Trump that pockets of Daesh terrorists "remained in the Euphrates River valley and that US military had not yet eliminated all of their strongholds".
Trump was informed that the US military successfully took back other areas from Daesh but the job is yet to be finished.
The sources stressed that the officers' remarks were "eye-opening" for Trump, who earlier claimed that Daesh was "badly" defeated in Syria, announcing the start of US withdrawal from the Arab Republic.
On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence claimed that Daesh had indeed been defeated, adding that the US is "now able to hand off the fight against ISIS [Daesh] to our coalition partners" after the group's caliphate "crumbled."
Earlier that day, a spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve announced in a tweet that several US service members had been among the 16 people killed in a bomb attack in the northern Syrian town of Manbij. Daesh reportedly claimed responsibility for the bombing.
The decision was slammed by some US officials and prompted two resignations: US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis, who stressed that his views were no longer aligned with Trump's, and Brett McGurk, special presidential envoy for the US coalition in Syria.
*Daesh (ISIL/ISIS/Islamic State) is a terrorist group banned in Russia and many other countries.