BAGHDAD — Every day for more than three years, the U.S. led coalition bombed Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria, for a total of nearly 30,000 strikes. But on Nov. 26, not a single airstrike was launched.
Just a week earlier, Iraq’s military had won back the last sliver of territory controlled by the militants. The Pentagon has announced that 400 Marines deployed to Syria to fight the group will be returning home.
Those milestones appear to mark the Islamic State’s defeat, with the end of its self-declared caliphate. But the battle isn’t over.
Iraqi and Syrian forces have yet to secure their porous border, which the Islamic State’s ministate once spanned, and are still chasing militants in canyon-filled deserts. Nor has the U.S. military determined its role now that major combat is over, although American and Iraqi officials have suggested that a major drawdown of U.S. troops is possible.
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