On August 8 of 2014, a pair of US jets launched their first airstrikes against ISIS targets near the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Irbil. This marked the beginning of a protracted air war which continues to this day, along with an accompanying ground war which, despite pledges of “no boots on the ground,” quickly grew to many thousands of US troops.
The fourth year finds ISIS-held territory shrinking substantially, with the group’s territory in Iraq all but lost, and both the Kurdish YPG and the Syrian government pushing them back in Syria, with an ongoing offensive in the ISIS capital of Raqqa.
Yet while Pentagon officials are keen to brag about their accomplishments in the war, mostly centering around having killed massive numbers of people, they are also quick to dismiss the idea that the war is anywhere near over, or that even if it was “won” is some shape or form it would mean US troops coming home.
Rather for many Pentagon officials the ISIS War has been an opportunity to restore the major military presence in Iraq they didn’t want to lose at the end of the last occupation, and officials have been very clear that they view the Iraq deployment as permanent.
It’s a little harder to declare the Syria occupation permanent, because US troops were never invited there in the first place, but US officials continue to send more troops into the country, building up a large region held by the US-backed Kurdish YPG, and setting up bases that look far from temporary.
It is incredible that, with the US openly talking about outright extermination of all ISIS members, there is no real “endgame” being discussed, and that like other US wars in places like Afghanistan, this is expected to basically just be an enduring reality rather than one attempted to accomplish something.
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