(ZHE) — At a moment of widespread acknowledgement that the short-lived Islamic State is no longer a reality, and as ISIS is about to be defeated by the Syrian Army in its last urban holdout of Abu Kamal City in eastern Syria, the US is signalling an open-ended military presence in Syria. On Monday Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon that the US is preparing for a long term military commitment in Syria to fight ISIS “as long as they want to fight.”
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Mattis indicated that even should ISIS loose all of its territory there would still be a dangerous insurgency that could morph into an “ISIS 2.0” which he said the US would seek to prevent. “The enemy hasn’t declared that they’re done with the area yet, so we’ll keep fighting as long as they want to fight,” Mattis said. “We’re not just going to walk away right now before the Geneva process has traction.”
Mattis was referring to the stalled peace talks in Geneva which some analysts have described as a complete failure (especially as the Geneva process unrealistically stipulates the departure of Assad), as the future of Syria has of late been increasingly decided militarily on the battlefield, with the Syrian government now controlling the vast majority of the country’s most populated centers.
Ironically just as some degree of stability and normalcy has returned to many parts of the county now under government control, Mattis coupled the idea of a permanent US military presence with the goal of allowing Syrians to return to their homes. He said, “You keep broadening them. Try to (demilitarize) one area then (demilitarize) another and just keep it going, try to do the things that will allow people to return to their homes.”
Meanwhile Turkey once again reiterated that the US has 13 bases in Syria, though the US-backed Syrian YPG has previously indicated seven US military bases in northern Syria. The Pentagon, however, would not confirm base locations or numbers – though only a year-and-a-half ago the American public was being assured that there would be “no boots on the ground” due to mission creep in Syria.
During the last year of the Obama administration, State Department spokesman John Kirby was called out multiple times by reporters for tell obvious and blatant lies concerning “boots on the ground” in Syria.
Remember this? “We are not going to be involved in a large scale combat mission on the ground in