- ISIS has been ousted from many of its redoubts in western Iraq.
- But remnants of the group remain, and divisions between Iraqis appear to be growing.
- Iraqis in the area fear a return of insurgency and sectarian violence, while some US personnel anticipate a presence there for generations.
Iraqi forces “swiftly and thoroughly” ejected ISIS fighters from Al Qaim — a city at the western edge of Iraq’s Anbar province and the terrorist group’s last stronghold on the Iraq-Syria border — in early November.
ISIS has lost most of the land it once held and has largely disappeared as an organized fighting force. All that’s left of the group’s so-called caliphate, which once stretched from northwest Syria to the edges of Baghdad, is chunks of territory along the Euphrates River in Iraq and Syria.
For the close to 1,000 US Marines assisting Iraqi forces in the area, the campaign has led them back to familiar terrain to continue the fight against an enemy that appears set to evolve into a different kind of threat.