United States and Syria have successfully driven out many of the ISIS leaders from Raqqa and they now plan to continue the offensive from other locations in Syria and Iraq. The New York times reports that the departure of leaders does not necessarily mean that the end of the battle is in sight because they have left behind a sizeable number of fighters as reported in NYTimes.

ISIS leaders know that they are fighting a losing game. They have not only lost plenty of territory but also at least 15,000 of their fighters in Iraq and Syria and the flow of volunteers has dried up.

Still, it will not leave Raqqa, their self-declared capital, which is now fortified with trenches, tunnels, minefields and houses rigged with explosives.

The American action plan

The United States has drawn up plans to retaliate by launching an offensive and will also provide additional firepower for the battles ahead by introducing the United States Marine artillery unit. Reports indicate that a handful of around 2,500 ISIS fighters are trying to defend western Mosul and a nearby town but they face a shortage of supplies and reinforcements because Iraqi forces have disrupted the supply lines. These fighters are reported to have used crude chemical weapons that have inflicted loss on civilians but not the military.

The American strategy is to strike at the midlevel commanders to create confusion among the ranks. They also admit that in spite of losses it suffered, ISIS still has enough supply of resources like weapons and cash in its possession and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is still believed to be alive but could have left Mosul.

In short, America is confident that the ISIS is living on borrowed time and will be out of Iraq within six months.

The road ahead for President Trump

The Trump administration has to debate all aspects of the case and consider whether to arm Syrian Kurds for the fight to take Raqqa. Simultaneously, the United States will have to take a call on which Syrian group will govern and secure the city after it is retaken. Mosul is the second-largest city in Iraq and once it is retaken, it would deal a major blow to ISIS. Along with that, if Raqqa also goes it would be a major setback for the group.