US Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis has stated that he foresees a revitalised effort against Islamic State militants in eastern parts of Syria. In a hearing of Senate Armed Services Committee Mattis said, “you’ll see a re-energized effort against the middle Euphrates River Valley in the days ahead and against the rest of the geographic caliphate”.
Islamic State had suffered heavily due to airstrikes led by the US but it still has some territory. It is expected to take the course of guerrilla warfare after the last remains of its caliphate are seized. US-backed Kurdish fighters namely the Syrian Democratic Forces are returning to the areas in the middle Euphrates River Valley. They are all prepared to wage another fight with the Islamic State and free their territory. There was an operational break due to the heavy Turkish offensive against the YPG in Afrin which are regarded by Turkey as an offshoot of the banned outfit PKK.
Mattis also expected an increase in the fight against Islamic State towards the Iraq border. Although President Trump had repeatedly wanted to withdraw troops from the Syria he has clarified that it won’t come before the mission is complete.