WASHINGTON — President Trump declared on Thursday that “we just took over 100 percent” of territory controlled by the Islamic State in Syria — a claim that reports from the battle front suggested was 100 percent untrue.
“You kept hearing it was 90 percent, 92 percent, the caliphate in Syria. Now it’s 100 percent, we just took over,” Mr. Trump said in remarks to American troops in Alaska. “Now it’s 100 percent, we just took over 100 percent caliphate. That means the area of the land. We just have 100 percent.”
“So that’s good.”
Over the past month, American forces have been working with Syrian fighters to seize the last square mile of Islamic State territory — the riverside village of Baghuz on the border with Iraq. Taking and holding terrain in any military operation can be a difficult task, especially against extremists who are willing to face death instead of surrender.
The battle was continuing on Thursday when officials with the Syrian Democratic Forces, an American-backed militia of Kurdish and Arab fighters, were told of Mr. Trump’s announcement.
“It’s 100 percent not true,” one senior official with the group said on Thursday afternoon. “The fighting continues.”
Separately, a second official said, “The battle is still going, and there is no truth in that statement.”
Both spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized by their commanders to talk to the press.
Journalists in the area also reported that the Islamic State had not surrendered all of its territory.