ISIS In Syria: It May Be Over For The Caliphate - But Ideology Has Already Spread by Richard Spencer and Hannah Lucinda Smith - The Times
The war for the “caliphate” is almost over. But it is not the end for hundreds of Isis fighters surrounded in eastern Syria, or the thousands who have already escaped.
On Wednesday in Washington President Trump told a meeting of 79 countries fighting Isis that he would soon declare victory. According to The Wall Street Journal, the military plans to complete the withdrawal of all US troops from Syria by the end of April.
However, the Pentagon fears that in the absence of US troops Isis may find space to regroup. How many fighters remain in Iraq and Syria is hotly disputed. Estimates range from 3,000 to 30,000 — many have returned home but may take up arms again if called on.
Few deny that a low-level insurgency continues in parts of Iraq, or that Syria will follow. Columb Strack, Middle East analyst at the defence consultancy IHS Markit, said: “Islamic State has regrouped in Iraq since it was declared defeated by the Iraqi government in December 2017, and we are now seeing a resurgence in central Iraq. We expect the same thing to happen in Syria.”
A suicide attack on a US patrol in the northern Syrian town of Manbij last month, which killed four Americans and 12 local fighters and civilians, points to Isis tactics of the future. Then there are the other wars that Isis fighters, if allowed to escape, could join. They could continue the struggle at home, whether in other Arab countries or Europe…