ISIS’ status in 2017

ISIS is retreating. According to Coalition figures, it has lost 27 percent of its Syrian territory, and 61 percent of its territory in Iraq. Airstrikes have decimated the leadership, but the resurgence of the Iraqi Army, coupled with Kurdish military prowess have proved decisive in rolling back the caliphate. Since Sinjar fell to the Kurds fifteen months ago, (severing the IS bastions of Raqqa and Mosul), the latter has been rendered exposed to Iraqi forces, who are expected to retake the city before the second half of the year.

Compounding their woes, a ceasefire between the Syrian Government and rebels is holding and peace talks are underway, suggesting forces in the region may soon begin to coalesce against ISIS. Despite this hope, growing tension between the Kurds, the most effective force fighting on the ground, and governments involved in the conflict may prove as leverage against which ISIS can apply its weight.

They have also made gains in southern Syria, culminating in the recapture of ancient Palmyra, and the destruction of an amphitheatre there.

Although the caliphate is destined for defeat, this does not make ISIS any less dangerous. The attacks they inspire will continue across the globe, and they are beginning to inspire similar actions elsewhere. Their affiliates are swelling in shattered Libya, multiplying in Afghanistan and expanding into Yemen.

As such, the forces arrayed against them are going to have to pivot away from the Middle East before this war is won.


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