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In the campaign to defeat Daesh (ISIS) in Syria, the U.S. Department of Defense and Central Command (CENTCOM) think they have a formula for addressing the "what's next" question in a way that evades and transfers responsibility entirely."Partner forces" – featuring Kurds with close ties to the terrorist PKK – are the ones who have been handed responsibility for what happens on the ground once predominantly Syrian Arab areas are liberated from Daesh.It has therefore invited the Assad regime and the Iranian-led Shiite foreign fighters supporting that regime to help themselves to the rest of eastern Syria so long as they shoot at Daesh and avoid targeting "partner forces".CENTCOM defines its mission in Syria simply as one of killing Daesh.The evasion and transfer of postcombat stabilization responsibility for Syrian areas liberated from Daesh is self-defeating. This writer has pressed relentlessly since 2015 for the United States to organize and lead a professional ground force coalition of the willing in eastern Syria to defeat Daesh sooner rather than later, and to work with genuine local leaders and anti-Assad opposition figures – many of whom had received material American support – to establish competent, humane and inclusive post-Daesh governance. There would, after all, be no war to liberate eastern Syria from Daesh had the United States not launched and sustained it.
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