The head of Britain’s armed forces has publicly contradicted Donald Trump’s repeated claims of victory over Islamic State.

General Sir Nicholas Carter also told an audience in central London that Syria is a “tinderbox that could very easily ignite a wider conflagration”.

Sir Nicholas, using an alternative name for Islamic State, said during the annual Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) lecture: “Daesh, and the extremist ideas it represents, has absolutely not been defeated.

“Indeed the threat from terrorism has proliferated – as was sadly demonstrated once again in last Friday’s attack at London Bridge. And the conditions in parts of the world are not conducive to reducing the growth of extremism.”

Sir Nicholas, who is chief of the defence staff, went on to say that the world has become less stable over the past twelve months.

He said: “We have returned to an era of great power competition, even constant conflict – reminiscent of the first decade of the last century.

“Russian activity in the North Atlantic and in the Supreme Allied Commander Europe’s (SACEUR) area of operations more widely is at a post-Cold War high; another page has been turned in Syria with Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring in September; Iraq’s government is fragile after several months of public disorder; there is public disquiet in Lebanon; freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf is being challenged; Yemen remains in conflict; Libya is increasingly a proxy war; the security in the Sahel and West Africa continues to decline; the outcome of September’s Afghan election remains undecided, which will impact the peace process; tensions in Kashmir have not diminished.”

Sir Nicholas’ words come twenty four hours after the US President left London after a bad-tempered meeting of NATO leaders.

Mr Trump fell out with French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in less than two days.

Trump claims Islamic State has been ‘defeated’ in Syria

In the wide-ranging annual lecture on Friday, Sir Nicholas said the armed forces must be prepared to take more risks to keep up with advances in technology.

He continued: “We are in a period of phenomenal change – more widespread, rapid and profound than humanity has experienced outside of world war. And it is more sustained than the two world wars of the last century combined – and it is still increasing. Our fundamental and long-held assumptions are being disrupted on a daily basis.

“As we enter the fourth industrial revolution, it is the same challenge and opportunity that faced our predecessors as they went from sail to steam.”

Sir Nicholas also attacked recent articles in The Sunday Times, even suggesting they might have been the result of a Russian disinformation campaign.

Referring to a piece last month that claimed defence chiefs were considering shrinking the army, Sir Nicholas suggested that was either “fantasy journalism, wishful thinking or fake news from one of our authoritarian opponents”.

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