Fighters of Syrian Democratic Forces walk past the ruins of destroyed buildings near the National Hospital after Raqqa was liberated from the Islamic State militants, in Raqqa, Syria October 17, 2017. Picture taken October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Erik De Castro Image Credit: REUTERS

Washington: The victory against Daesh in Raqqa is raising new questions about the United States’ future role in Syria.

The remaining Daesh strongholds in Syria lie to the south in the province of Deir Al Zor, where the Syrian government and its Iranian-backed and Russian allies are making fast progress.

The US military will leave it up to the SDF to decide whether it wants to continue to advance into the area, Dillon said.

Perhaps more importantly, the Trump administration has not yet indicated whether it is prepared to stay on in northeastern Syria to provide protection for the fledgling ministate being forged by Syria’s Kurds.

The experience over the past two days of the Kurds in neighboring Iraq may embolden the Syrian government to challenge the Syrian Kurdish enclave once Daesh is vanquished, just as the Iraqi government has moved to dislodge Kurdish forces from the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and other areas they controlled.

Syrian government officials have spoken on several occasions about their determination to regain control over all of the territory they lost to the rebellion against President Bashar Al Assad, including the area controlled by the Kurds.

“What would be disastrous for Syrian Kurds is a rapid US drawdown in Syria. It would take away their major foreign patron,” said Nicholas A. Heras of the Centre for a New American Security.

A civilian council comprising Arabs and Kurds is waiting in the wings to take over governance of Raqqa, under the auspices of the Kurdish-led administration running northeastern Syria. But the international community has not committed funds for reconstruction of the devastated city, and the absence of a clear US policy for northeastern Syria risks undermining the gains, cautioned Hassan Hassan of the Washington-based Tahrir Institute.

“No one trusts the Americans, not even the Kurds,” he said.

“To defeat extremism after destroying areas through the necessity of war, you have to deal with the consequences, not just drop bombs and leave because you have an aversion to war.”