Is It Really 'Mission Accomplished' in Iraq and Syria?

Is It Really 'Mission Accomplished' in Iraq and Syria? by Daniel R. DePetris - The National Interest

The Syrian city of Raqqa is a graphic and distressing microcosm for the broader U.S.-led war against the Islamic State. The city, captured by the Kurdish-Arab Syrian Democratic Forces this month, was the culmination of a four month campaign that included hundreds of U.S. air strikes and intense ground fighting in houses, on rooftops, streets and alleyways. The combat in Raqqa may not have reached Mosul-like proportions, but the before and after pictures from satellite footage reveals a city that is physically devastated and socially scarred. As BBC Middle East Correspondent Quentin Sommerville wrote during one of his forays in the dirt and grime, “street by street, house by house, Raqqa is being destroyed.”

This is perhaps the legacy of ISIS after all these years: wherever it goes, annihilation follows.

Indeed, this is one reason why the period after the liberation of Iraqi and Syrian cities and towns will be just as difficult as the actual fighting; there is so much ruin, so many lives lost, and so much pent-up animosity from multiple communities that it may very well take a generation for Iraq and Syria to heal—if it ever heals at all. The thirst for revenge among the Iraqi security forces, the Shia militias that Baghdad has relied on since the war began, and the ordinary people who have suffered under ISIS rule for the past four years is not a good omen for the political reconciliation that must occur if either Iraq or Syria has a shot at a decent future…

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