Another major challenge in the fight against ISIS will be to rebuild and stabilize war-torn villages in Iraq and Syria. This is so people who were forced to move can return home. That means repairing housing, creating jobs, and restoring electricity. It also means establishing strong local governments. This will be a massive undertaking that could take years.
“When the fighting stops, the humanitarian crisis continues,” says Lise Grande of the United Nations.
For example, the nine-month battle for control of Mosul left much of the city in ruins. It left millions of people without clean water or electricity. In addition, hundreds of women and children were hurt from being held captive by ISIS. Recently freed, they will likely require long-term medical care and rehabilitation.
There is also the question of whether U.S. troops will stay in Iraq and Syria. They could stay to prevent ISIS or other terrorist groups from once again gaining ground.
President Donald Trump is expected to send nearly 4,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. This is in part to help fight ISIS. That would raise the total number of U.S. forces stationed there to about 15,000. But it is still unclear if the U.S. will maintain a military presence in Iraq or Syria, and if so, how long.
For now, many people whose lives have been destroyed by ISIS are just relieved that the group’s power is beginning to weaken.
Ahmed Abdul-Qadir is a native of Raqqa, Syria. “I am happy that [ISIS] is dying,” he says. “But the fear of what might come next is killing this happiness.”
With reporting by The New York Times