Pentagon is quietly beginning to set up Syria for a protracted conflict with the Islamic State.
Approximately 900 special forces continue to put in extra hours to support local troops in their search for ISIS relics in order to keep the terrorist organization at bay. However, the Department of Defense’s most recent weapon of choice is enhanced infrastructure and services to prevent ISIS from freeing the 10,000 or so former combatants who are being held in deteriorating detention facilities around Syria. ISIS forces have repeatedly attacked similar locations in recent months, most blatantly in January when they attacked the Hasakah jail in northeastern Syria. During the ensuing 10-day fight, numerous inmates managed to escape. The local partner, the Syrian Democratic Forces, are carrying out the adjustments on the ground, despite the Pentagon asking Congress for permission and funding to make some changes. Some of this work, such as constructing guard towers and installing lighting to stop smuggling throughout the night, has already started. The long-term objective is to construct brand-new, specially designed institutions that are more safe and compassionate and have access to medical and other services. Although it is anticipated that the effort will take several years, the DoD is conducting feasibility studies for the construction of these additional facilities.