Pentagon: US to fight ISIS in Syria 'as long as they want to fight'

Pentagon: US to fight ISIS in Syria 'as long as they want to fight'

The U.S. military will fight ISIS in Syria as long as they want to fight, the US Defense Secretary James Mattis said.

As U.S.-backed and Russian-backed forces battle to retake the remaining pockets of ISIS-held terrain, Mattis said the U.S. military’s longer-term objective would be to prevent the return of an "ISIS 2.0."

"The enemy hasn’t declared that they’re done with the area yet, so we’ll keep fighting as long as they want to fight," Mattis said, speaking to reporters at the Pentagon about the future of U.S. operations in Syria.

He also stressed the importance of longer-term peace efforts, suggesting U.S. forces aimed to help set the conditions of a diplomatic solution in Syria, now in its seventh year of civil war.

"We’re not just going to walk away right now before the Geneva process has traction," he added.

Mattis said he believed the southwestern zone was working, and spoke hopefully about additional areas in the future that might allow for more refugees to return home.

"You keep broadening them. Try to (demilitarize) one area then (demilitarize) another and just keep it going, try to do the things that will allow people to return to their homes," Reuters cited him as saying.

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