Islamic State down however not out in Syria and Iraq, says Pentagon report

Islamic State ‘entrenched as low-level insurgency’

The most up-to-date report from the Pentagon’s Inspector General on Operation Inherent Resolve, the US-led diplomatic and navy operation towards the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria, signifies that IS has weakened however stays a precedence for US nationwide safety pursuits within the area.

These quarterly experiences present essentially the most complete reporting and evaluation of the US-led mission towards IS and due to this fact deserve consideration.

  • The report makes clear that the United States and its coalition companions stay important to the continued success of the mission.
  • The Iraq-Syria border stays an space of concern for IS exercise.
  • Economic hardship, the COVID-19 pandemic and a devastating drought, particularly in Syria, will proceed to form the atmosphere.
  • The Iraqi elections and the prospect for continued political stability and progress there’s excellent news for Iraq and the anti-IS coalition effort.
  • Iran-backed proxy forces and militias in each international locations stay a menace to coalition forces and operations.
  • Both the Iraqi Security Forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) will proceed to rely on US coaching and help in “conducting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), intelligence integration and airstrikes.”

Some highlights:

In Iraq:

  • The US mission in Iraq will transition to “training, advising and intelligence gathering” on Dec. 31.
  • There are not any anticipated modifications within the numbers of US troops in Iraq, at the moment at approximately 2,500.
  • While IS has carried out a lowering variety of assaults, in some instances it has proven uncommon complexity and a “higher level of operational maturity.”

In Syria:

  • The United States maintains approximately 900 troops, and the US mission to work “with, by and through” the SDF to defeat IS has not modified.
  • The tempo and variety of counter-IS operations carried out by the US-allied SDF has decreased, and the SDF alone “lacked the ability to conduct persistent surveillance or maintain situational awareness.”
  • IS seemed to be “consolidating in the desert and poised for increased activity in what the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) termed “the next stage of its insurgency.”
  • IS continued its focus exercise within the al-Hol displaced individuals camp for recruitment and indoctrination.

Al-Monitor’s unmatched reporting on Syria and Iraq

Al-Monitor gives unmatched reporting and evaluation on the safety state of affairs in Syria and Iraq and elsewhere within the area, together with:

  • An Iran-linked militia has known as for volunteers to struggle US troops in Iraq after Dec. 31, experiences Shelly Kittleson.
  • Iraqi populist chief Muqtada al-Sadr, who seeks to kind a majority authorities in Iraq, has known as for the “liquidation” of pro-Iran militias, Ali Mamouri experiences.
  • How the Turkish lira disaster is affecting the residents of Idlib, which began utilizing the lira final 12 months, experiences Khaled al-Khateb.
  • How a devastating drought is affecting the lives of Syrians, experiences Khateb and Amberin Zaman.
  • Reports of a deliberate assault on a jail in Syria that homes 1000’s of Iraqi IS operatives, experiences Kittleson.
  • The backstory on why the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander in Syria was eliminated, maybe at Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s request, Ali Hashem experiences.
  • Islamic State assaults in Iraq’s Diyala province search to spark sectarian bloodletting, Kittleson experiences.

Giving credit score the place due

Operation Inherent Resolve has been a large success story because it was launched by the Obama administration in 2014, and it deserves repeating — because it has occurred amid regular criticism from each the proper and left and within the area — that the United States was stepping again from its commitments within the Middle East. 

It could also be simple to neglect that IS in 2014 had overrun giant components of Iraq and Syria, instituting a brutal reign of terror. IS took Raqqa, the seventh-largest metropolis in Syria, and Mosul, the third-largest metropolis in Iraq, and murdered, raped, tortured and beheaded those that crossed them.

The Obama administration went all in on its dedication to defeat IS and by no means wavered. As we wrote right here in February, the execution of the US-led coverage has been principally textbook: The mission sustained bipartisan congressional help throughout three (each Republican and Democrat) administrations and near-flawless civilian and navy coordination each inside the US authorities and throughout the coalition in addition to with native companions of various capabilities. 

By March 2019, the US-led coalition had “territorially defeated” IS, and greater than two years later, IS nonetheless holds no progress in both nation. The intense coordination between the United States and Iraqi Security Forces over these previous seven years has additionally been instrumental in deepening the US-Iraq strategic partnership and the regular progress that has occurred in Iraq, together with within the October elections that, in line with the United Nations and different observers, could have set a brand new normal for transparency within the area.

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