With ISIL all but vanquished from its self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq and Syria, the US-led coalition is transforming its mission.
Eager to avoid a repeat of 2011, when America completed its troop withdrawal from Iraq only to watch in horror as ISIL later overran swathes of the country, the coalition is focusing on what it must do to stop a re-emergence of the organisation.
US defense secretary Jim Mattis recently told reporters that the mission is now shifting towards stabilisation and making sure there is no space for a repeat of ISIL.
The Pentagon has said it will stay in Syria "as long as we need to".
"The longer term recovery is going to take a lot of effort and a lot of years after what (ISIL) did, because they forcibly kept innocent people in the midst of the combat zone, and that meant the residential areas took damage, the public areas – everything took damage," he said, adding that a most pressing need is to clear cities and terrain of innumerable bombs, mines and booby traps.
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