ISIS Left To Clinging to Scraps In Iraq and Syria

With its recent losses of Raqqa, Mosul, al-Qaim and Deir ez-Zour, ISIS only controls barely-populated deserts in Iraq and Syria.

ISIS Left To Clinging to Scraps In Iraq and Syria Preview

Syria’s army announced Thursday (November 9) the capture of the last town held by the Islamic State (ISIS) in the country, driving yet another nail into the coffin of its trans-border “caliphate.”

The latest loss leaves the militants clinging to just a few small pockets of territory in Iraq and Syria, a far cry from the vast stretches they controlled after rampaging across the region in 2014.

Here are the remaining ISIS holdouts:

Syria

After Thursday’s loss of the town of Albu Kamal on the border with Iraq, ISIS is left in control of some two dozen desert villages along the Euphrates river in the surrounding oil-rich Deir ez-Zor province that once provided a major source of the group’s illicit income.

The militants there, are being confronted by both Syrian regime forces backed up by Russian air power and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition of Kurdish and Arab fighters supported by a U.S.-led coalition.

Away from the barren frontier region, ISIS retains a presence in the Yarmuk refugee camp and the Hajar Aswad district just south of the capital Damascus, where the group is battling other jihadists and pro-regime forces.

In the central region of Homs ISIS is being squeezed by troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and their Russian backers as it struggles to maintain its grip on a few small areas.

To the south in Daraa province on the border with Jordan an affiliated group called Jaish Khaled Bin Walid is mainly battling rebel groups.

Iraq

After a brutal campaign that has seen them recapture a string of major cities, Iraqi forces are currently waging a final offensive along their side of the frontier with Syria to wipe out the last remnants of ISIS territory.

The capture of the key town of Al-Qaim and a nearby border crossing on November 3 left the smaller neighboring outpost of Rawa and surrounding scraps of desert as all that remains under ISIS control in Iraq.

The frontier area of Iraq’s Anbar province is dominated by a handful of powerful Sunni tribes, some of which have dispatched fighters to battle ISIS alongside government forces.

The region has been known as a hotbed of jihadist insurgency and smuggling since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq ousted Saddam Hussein in 2003, long before the arrival of IS in 2014.

Article: NRT

Image: Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP

1 month ago