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Pentagon: ISIS Defeated, Its Threat Remains

Pentagon: ISIS Defeated, Its Threat Remains

Tuesday, 30 July, 2019 - 12:30
US Troops in Mosul, Iraq (File photo: Reuters)
Washington - Mohammed Ali Saleh
The ISIS organization had been defeated but remains a threat, Pentagon quoted the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford, who asserted that the alliance between the US and coalition forces must continue to prevent the return of the terrorist group.

Dunford confirmed that the strategy to drive ISIS from its “so-called caliphate in Syria and Iraq” has succeeded, but that doesn't mean the struggle against the ideology is over.

A Pentagon report published along with Dunford’s statements indicated that the US forces and allies came into the region to help those forces become more effective in combat.

However, many critics said the only way to defeat the terror group was “via vast numbers of Western troops – by Western, they meant American. Some believed the United States had to launch another military surge into Iraq.”

It added that some political and military leaders believed there was a better strategy through train, advise, and enable. Then, a small number of US and partner-nation forces instructed Iraqi and Syrian security forces, advising them in combat and providing enabling capabilities to ensure ISIS defeat.

“The strategy has proven successful, and in March, the physical caliphate was eliminated,” noted the report.

“We can all certainly be proud of the progress that has taken place since 2015 … in terms of clearing ISIS from Mosul, from Raqqa, from Fallujah and so forth," Dunford announced.

“But we also know there is still a fairly vibrant insurgency that has reverted to guerilla tactics, and so there is still a threat.”

Dunford reiterated that ISIS’ physical caliphate is defeated, but the organization has not disappeared. It has reverted to a guerrilla group, with individuals banding together to launch small attacks.

Earlier this year, the Senate Armed Services Committee summoned several military commanders, including General Raymond Thomas, commander of US Special Operations Command, who voiced Dunford’s statements.

“Threats have declined significantly, but the terrorist group remains a threat,” Thomas said.

Testifying before the committee, the General declared: “We have crushed the physical caliphate” ISIS established in Syria and Iraq.

The terrain that ISIS formerly maintained, a sanctuary from where they drew their resources, specifically oil resources, has been badly diminished, but they continue to be a threat, he warned.

Thomas appeared before the committee alongside acting Assistant Secretary of Defense Owen West and Gen. Paul Nakasone, head of US Cyber Command, to testify on cybersecurity threats.

“I’d be cautious to use the word ‘victory’ but I think it’s important not to diminish what has happened there,” West said to the committee.

He warned that if US troops are withdrawn entirely from Syria, it would make operations more difficult from a military standpoint, but assured the committee the US can “remotely assist and advise” in the mission to contain ISIS.

“It will certainly be harder to not have that proximity, [it will] make it more challenging,” Gen. Thomas noted, adding: “but we’re working on solutions to maintain some contact, some level of support.”

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