Various memes circulating online falsely claim that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State leader who recently died after a U.S. raid, had been released from U.S. military custody under President Barack Obama. He was actually released in 2004, under President George W. Bush.
National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien dismissed as “Twitter intel” the suggestion that more than 100 captured Islamic State fighters escaped from prisons in Syria amid fighting between Turkish soldiers and Syrian Kurds. But that was a figure provided by the secretary of defense and a top official in the State Department.
On the same day ISIS claimed responsibility for a deadly attack against U.S. service members in Syria, Vice President Mike Pence declared that ISIS “has been defeated.” It is true that the U.S. and its allies have retaken virtually all of the land ISIS controlled in Iraq and Syria, but experts say the group still has tens of thousands of fighters and remains dangerous.
President Trump said nearly all of the land once controlled by ISIS in Syria and Iraq has been retaken and “it all took place since our election.” But even the State Department’s senior envoy to the anti-Islamic State coalition said in December that half of the ISIS caliphate was recaptured under Trump’s leadership.