Iraqi forces recaptured the last terrorist stronghold in their country
ISIS’s terrorist attacks in Barcelona proved that the group still has the capability of hitting Europe's hearth. However, this doesn't mean that IS maintains its power in the Middle East; in reality, it seems to be the opposite.
Back in 2014, the Islamic State conquered Mosul, the third biggest city in Iraq, Raqqa, and took control of over 126 key places in the area, including a small part of Lebanon. Over the last couple of months, things have changed. The terrorist group has experienced loss of important territories.
Bashar Al-Assad’s forces in Syria have regained over 60,000 sq km and expelled the Islamic State from cities they controlled; the Pentagon has affirmed that ISIS has lost around 45.000 caliphs. The Iraqi Government is close to fully defeating them in their territory, according to official sources.
Last Thursday, the Iraqi army and its allies recaptured the city of Tal Afar, which was one of the few reminding cities under ISIS's control within the country. Banishing near 2,000 terrorists from the place. After the allied victory in Mosul, at the beginning of the year, this town became the terrorists’ strategic stronghold in Iraq.
The Iraqi army – in union with some Shia groups, the Kurdish forces, and NATO cooperation- has pushed the Caliphate troops towards the border with Syria. To this day, the coalition forces has expelled ISIS from Mosul, Baji, Ramadi, Tikrit, Sinjar, Tal Afar, and Fallujah (69 km west of Bagdad). IS only controls a part of the nation’s dessert and Al-Kaim, a border city with 150.000 citizens.
ISIS still controls several territories in the country, however, the Bashar Al-Assad's forces, the Lebanese army, Hezbolla guerillas, and the Russian cooperation obligated the Islamic State to abandon the border between Syria and Lebanon. They also agreed with the terrorist to let them move from the west to the east of Syria, so they can leave these lands.
The different groups fighting against the Caliphate in Syria have reconquered some of the most important ISIS's strongholds: Tal Abyad, Al Bab, Azaz, Jarablus (all of them in near the Turkey border) and Palmyra in the center of Syria. At the moment, the extremists are disputing Raqqa and some parts of the center of the country.
Some experts see this military offensive crucial for the ISIS defeat and hope that in the next year, their power in the Syrian and Iraqi territory will be minimal. Last year, the US intelligence estimated that IS has between 15.000 to 20.000 troops. It looks like that the Iraq's Prime Minister, Haider Al-Abadi, was right declaring the end of ISIS.
However, it is important to maintain the security measures against terrorist attacks in Russia, USA, Europe and even Iraq and Syria. ISIS has already shown that they can still persuade "lonely wolves" to perpetrate terrorist attacks.
Latin American Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández
Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto