The US-led coalition in Syria believes they have a “lot more” to do in their war against ISIS in the country, even if they manage to expel ISIS from their capital city of Raqqa, with the deputy commander saying they’ll go after the rest of ISIS territory, backing the Kurds.
ISIS still holds a substantial amount of territory outside of Raqqa, including the majority of the Deir Ezzor Province. US officials have previously even singled out Mayadin as the “next capital” for ISIS, which they’ll invade next.
That’s likely to take quite some time, as the Raqqa invasion has been ongoing since October, and still not really close to completed. While the other ISIS cities are smaller, the talk of defeating ISIS by killing every single fighter they have is likely to keep ISIS forces fighting until the last.
In Iraq, the US has styled their military presence as basically a permanent reality now, irrespective of ISIS’ status, but in Syria, where the US-led coalition isn’t authorized to be in the first place, justifying their long-term presence is going to be trickier.