Small Wars Journal

Islamic State Returns to Guerrilla Warfare in Iraq and Syria

Islamic State Returns to Guerrilla Warfare in Iraq and Syria by Raja Abdulrahim in Beirut and Isabel Coles – Wall Street Journal

Despite Syrian and Iraqi claims of victory over Islamic State, thousands of militants still holed up in both countries have mounted a number of recent guerrilla-style attacks on civilians and military forces, according to the U.S.-led coalition fighting the extremist group and others.

The fighters, hiding in isolated desert or mountain regions or among civilian populations in the neighboring countries, are stepping up hit-and-run style attacks now that they have lost much of the territory they seized several years ago, according to coalition officials, local activists and other experts.

“Their way of fighting is like a wounded wolf,” said Hisham al-Hashimi, an Iraqi expert on Islamic State. “A wolf is the only creature that does not flee when wounded. It attacks.”

The U.S.-led coalition warily casts the development as evidence of the group’s diminution. “As [Islamic State] continues to lose land, influence, funding streams and conventional capabilities, we expect them to return to their terrorist roots by conducting high-profile attacks on helpless civilians,” the coalition said last week. “There are less than 3,000 terrorists, most of whom are being hunted down in desert regions in Syria.” …

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