Since the start of the ISIS war, the mass recruitment from around the world by ISIS has fueled concerns about post-war possibilities, including what happens when the war ends and ISIS recruits start returning home to their countries of origin, with a bunch of new training and ties to international jihad.
According to Defense Secretary James Mattis, that’s not a real concern, as the US policy is one of “annihilation,” with the expressed goal of ensuring that no one survives the war to return home at any rate, and that “we’re going to stop them” in Iraq and Syria.
Mattis was quick to downplay civilian casualties as just a “fact of life,” while repeatedly insisting that the US are “the good guys,” a claim he likely felt needed explicit saying since he’s overtly talking about a war of total extermination.
The downplaying of civilian deaths may need more scrutiny, however, particularly as US strikes have increasingly come against ISIS family members. Mattis’ assurance that no one will be left to return home after the war may well be informing the decision to go after civilians in ISIS territory who are related to the fighters as a way of further reducing post-war returnees by purging widows and orphans.