The United States will continue its campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria from outside Syria, said a senior defense official who wished to remain anonymous, yesterday in Washington.
"The Defeat-ISIS campaign will continue," the official said in a background interview with Pentagon reporters. "The enduring defeat of ISIS remains one of our top security priorities. We have significant assets and personnel as well as coalition capabilities throughout the region that will continue to prosecute that campaign."
The Turkish invasion of Northern Syria has complicated matters in the region. President Donald J. Trump ordered the evacuation of American service members from the region. U.S. personnel were in danger of getting between Turkish and Kurdish forces.
The situation is becoming even more complex as Russian personnel and forces from the regime of Bashir al-Assad have rushed to fill the vacuum in Northern Syria.
It is important to remember that ISIS is not just a Middle East/Central Asia phenomenon. The terror group is attempting to foment extremism in many other areas including Somalia, Niger, Southeast Asia, the Philippines and elsewhere. The Defeat-ISIS coalition — now up to about 80 entities — will continue to go after the group.
"We will adjust to new circumstances on the ground that create challenges, but we are pretty good at adapting and will continue to do so," the official said.
Many of those leaving Syria will continue to operate against ISIS in Syria from nearby Iraq. "The intent is to reposition and use what assets and personnel we have available to continue the mission," the official said. U.S. Central Command is working on how to employ these forces and assets, the official said.
Complicating the situation further in Turkey is a long-standing NATO ally — having joined the alliance in 1952. Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper will participate in the NATO defense ministers meeting next week and will consult with the other NATO allies about the Turkish actions in Syria, the official said.