The battle against the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) is "far from over" and the extremists remain unbroken and prepared for a resurgence despite the elimination of their physical base in Syria, a top US commander said Thursday (March 7th).
Reduction of the group's physical territory is a "monumental military accomplishment -- but the fight against ISIS and violent extremism is far from over and our mission remains the same", Gen. Joseph Votel, head of the US Central Command, told Congress.
ISIS elements who have been part of the group's final stronghold in eastern Syria "largely remain unrepentant, unbroken and radicalised", he said.
"We will need to maintain a vigilant offensive against this now widely dispersed and disaggregated organisation," he said.
Votel told the House Armed Services Committee that the next phase of the fight will be dealing with ISIS leaders, fighters, and facilitators hiding under cover but still motivated by extremist ideology.
"This will look very much like an insurgency. We will see low-level attacks. We will see assassinations, we will see IED attacks, we will see ambush-type things as they begin to emerge from this."
Votel also warned that the hundreds of foreign ISIS fighters and their families captured in Syria and now mostly in the hands of the "Syrian Democratic Forces" (SDF) are very dangerous and called on their home countries to deal with them.
"In my view this is a serious generational problem that if not handled properly will sow the seeds of future violent extremism," he said.