DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - ISIS has suffered crushing losses during the first year of Donald Trump's term as president.
ISIS' territory has shrunk 98 percent in total from its peak. About half of this lost territory was reclaimed in the past 11 months alone.
United States military officials said this on Tuesday, according to reports. They explained that the Trump administration changed Obama-era policies that were hindering the effectiveness of U.S. forces in the international coalition fighting ISIS.
Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula is the former head of U.S. Air Force intelligence. He told the press Tuesday, "The rules of engagement under the Obama administration were onerous."
Under president Obama, he argued, the U.S. military had to go through a long process of approval up the chain of command before making moves. This slowed down the process, Deptula claims.
He added, "The limitations that were put on [us] actually resulted in greater civilian casualties."
Countering Deptula's criticism was Joshua Geltzer, who served under Obama as a senior director for counterterrorism on the National Security Council. Geltzer claimed:
This was a top priority from the early days of ISIS gaining the type of territorial safe haven in particular, there was recognition that safe havens for terrorist groups can mean terrorist plots that extend — not just into the region — but to Europe and conceivably into the United States.
In October, ISIS' official classification was downgraded from "terror state" to "terrorist organization." This reflected the international coalition's continued successes against the militant Islamic fighters.
Membership in the terrorist group has also been decreasing rapidly. Just two years ago, membership peaked at 45,000; but the most recent U.S. intelligence suggests there are only about 1,000 ISIS gunmen left.
This Christmas was the first time in three years that Christians in the Nineveh Plain (in Iraq) were able to celebrate Christmas in their home. Most Christians from the area fled as refugees when ISIS invaded; as ISIS' caliphate approaches its final days, Christians have started returning to the region. Most of these Christians are Chaldeans, which makes them Eastern Rite Catholics.