America’s Forgotten War in Syria Isn’t Stopping by Adam Taylor – Washington Post
The United States is fighting a war in Syria. It’s a quiet war with debatable legal standing, but it is a real war nonetheless. Estimates of the number of U.S. troops there over the past year run anywhere from about 500 into the thousands.
In theory, at least, the U.S. presence in Syria is about defeating the Islamic State, the extremist group that controlled major chunks of Syria and Iraq in recent years and later orchestrated or inspired terrorist attacks in Europe and North America. Today, the U.S. government claims the Islamic State is near total defeat.
Yet the Trump administration has declared it will be in Syria indefinitely. Does that mean that the enemy is not, in fact, as defeated as it seems? Or does it mean that the mission has crept beyond the Islamic State? In this case, the answer may be both.
The Islamic State has lost almost all of the territory it held at the peak of its power in 2014 and 2015. This is largely thanks to a U.S.-led military intervention — particularly the use of American air power — that began under the Obama administration and continued under the Trump administration. It is also a success that came at a high cost to Syrian civilians, according to groups such as Amnesty International.
But if the Islamic State is down, it is not yet out…