Despite a string of terrorist bombings, most notably in Brussels, multiple media organizations including the Washington Post are reporting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) is ceding ground in regions once controlled by the jihadist army.
Describing ISIS as a “rapidly diminishing force” in the Middle East, Washington Post Beirut bureau chief, Liz Sly, continued with an uplifting description of ISIS terrorists disobeying superiors, fleeing the battlefield or incurring such losses as to render the evildoers impotent:
“These are just two of the many fronts in both countries where the militants are being squeezed, stretched and pushed back. Nowhere are they on the attack. They have not embarked on a successful offensive in nearly nine months. Their leaders are dying in U.S. strikes at the rate of one every three days, inhibiting their ability to launch attacks, according to U.S. military officials.”
Abetted by a six-month Russian aerial campaign, Syrian troops loyal to Bashar al-Assad have liberated vast areas in northern Syria, have re-taken territory immediately surrounding Aleppo and are approaching Al-Raqqah, the de-facto capital of the Islamic caliphate.
On March 25, Syrian troops breached ISIS defenses in Palmyra.
Similarly, American airstrikes in Iraq have assisted Iraqi troops in driving ISIS from several key havens in northern Iraq.
“They don’t fight. They just send car bombs and then run away. And when we surround them, they either surrender or infiltrate themselves among the civilians. Their morale is shaken. We listen to them on their communications devices. Their leaders are begging them to fight, but they answer that it is a lost cause. They refuse to obey orders and run away,” said Lt. Gen. Abdul-Ghani al-Assadi, commander of Iraq’s counterterrorism forces.
Despite ISIS’ losses, former CIA deputy director Michael Morell warned against the implacably hostile group and suggested their terror attack signals the Jihadist cabal is far from defeated.
While news of ISIS losses in Iraq and Syria is both welcome and elevating, now is not the time to scale back expectations in the battle against these evildoers.
Morell’s assessment is not to be interpreted as a shabby response to battlefield victories, but through his prism, the lens of a seasoned intelligence expert, it is to be viewed as a cautionary tale not to be overly optimistic regarding recent ISIS losses.
ISIS may be forced to retreat and may very well grow more blood thirsty and resort to “scorched-earth” tactics as they are driven further into insurgency, but this relinquishing of territory they once ruled should not cause us to overlook their resourcefulness in continuing to create global havoc.
The Brussels attacks prove it is far too early to celebrate ISIS’ demise.
[Washington Post] [BBC] [Politico] [arannews.net] [sputniknews.com] [presstv.ir] [CBS] [Photo courtesy CNN]