Pompeo acknowledges 'places where ISIS is more powerful today'

Pompeo acknowledges 'places where ISIS is more powerful today'
© Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoFive takeaways from ex-ambassador's dramatic testimony Pompeo: No US response ruled out in Hong Kong Ousted ambassador describes State Department in 'crisis' in dramatic impeachment testimony MORE acknowledged Tuesday that ISIS has regained strength in some areas, but argued the terrorist group’s ability to carry out attacks outside its core region is greatly diminished.

“It’s complicated,” Pompeo said in an interview on “CBS This Morning.” “There’s certainly places where ISIS is more powerful today than they were three or four years ago."

ADVERTISEMENT

“But the caliphate is gone, and their capacity to conduct external attacks has been made much more difficult. We’ve taken down a significant risk,” he continued. “Not all of it, but a significant amount. And we’re very pleased with the work we have done.”

Pompeo was asked about a New York Times report that said ISIS is regaining strength in Iraq and Syria.

A recent inspector general report from the Pentagon, State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development also found that a U.S. troop drawdown in Syria means the United States does not have the resources to monitor a refugee camp where “ISIS is likely exploiting the lack of security to enlist new members and re-engage members who have left the battlefield.”

Meanwhile, ISIS’s Afghanistan branch has claimed responsibility for a Saturday attack on a wedding in Kabul that killed 63 people and wounded 182.

The United States declared victory over ISIS in March after it and partner forces ousted the terrorist group from its last pocket of territory in Syria.

ISIS’s territorial defeat came after President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump opens new line of impeachment attack for Democrats Bloomberg to spend 0M on anti-Trump ads in battleground states New witness claims first-hand account of Trump's push for Ukraine probes MORE announced in December a full U.S. withdrawal from Syria.

Trump eventually walked back plans for a full withdrawal amid fierce warnings that it would leave a vacuum in which ISIS could regain power, but has still started drawing down the 2,000 U.S. troops who were there at the height of the fight.

On Tuesday, Pompeo argued that the United States was “very successful” in defeating ISIS, but added that “there’s always risk that they’ll be resurgent.”

“Not just from ISIS. There’s risks from al Qaeda, other radical Islamic terrorist groups,” Pompeo said on CBS. “President Trump is very focused on making sure that we apply the right resources against the problem set everywhere to protect the homeland and keep the American people safe. We’ll do that.”