The fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria has accelerated, said U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. In an interview with CBS news, Mr. Mattis said the U.S-led anti-ISIS coalition has shifted from what he called “attrition tactics,” where ISIS terrorists are pushed from one position to another, to “annihilation tactics,” where the terrorists are surrounded and destroyed.
“Our intention is that the foreign fighters do not survive the fight to return home to North Africa, to Europe, to America, to Asia, to Africa,” said Secretary Mattis. “We are not going to allow them to do so. We are going to stop them there and take apart the caliphate.”
Secretary Mattis noted that while the tactics and the tempo of the anti-ISIS fight have shifted, there has not been a change in the rules of engagement: “There is no relaxation of our intention to protect the innocent,” he said. ”We do everything we can to protect the civilians.”
Defense Secretary Mattis said there is no question but that ISIS “is going to go down.” But he emphasized the fight involves “more than just an army. It is also a fight about ideas.”
“We have got to dry up their recruiting. We have to dry up their fund-raising. The way we intend to do it is to humiliate them, to divorce them from any nation giving them protection and humiliating their message of hatred, of violence. Anyone who kills women and children is not devout,” Secretary Mattis said. “We’re going to strip them of any kind of legitimacy.”
Secretary Mattis warned that while there is no question the Coalition will shatter ISIS’ sense of invincibility in their physical caliphate, “We are going to watch for other organizations growing up…We are going to have to continue to keep the pressure on the enemy… There is no room for complacency on this.”
Complacency--no. Conviction--yes. Asked what keeps him awake at night, Secretary of Defense Mattis answered, “Nothing. I keep other people awake at night.”