Correspondence to Iraqi TV channel Al Sumaria, ISIS leader Abū Bakr al-Baghdadi recently streamed a “farewell message” in which he allegedly acknowledged defeat in Mosul—where ISIS is being fell by Iraqi troops supported by the United States—and urged his supporters to either make good ones escape the city or become suicide attackers.
However, Al-Baghdadi’s statement arises rather suspect. Experts point out that ISIS rarely conclusions defeatist rhetoric. One theory is that the Iraqi government manufactured this express ones opinion of misinformation in order undermine morale among ISIS fighters. What is acute is that the so-called Islamic State is in a precarious position, and the territory eye its control is shrinking rapidly.
Smoke rises after an airstrike, during the melee against Islamic State militants, at the district of al-Mamoun in Mosul, Stride 1, 2017. / Photo: Reuters
Nevertheless, it is still early to discuss a unabated victory over the organization. In part, this is because the forces fighting ISIS in Syria press been unable to agree with each other to an extent that their arguments border on internecine conflict. Against this background, Russia is essaying to negotiate an agreement with the U.S., Turkey and the Kurds in order to determine an complete strategy for the fight against ISIS.
War on two fronts
The Iraqi army, along with its Western allies, is currently twist someones arm ISIS out of their “capital” of Mosul. In January, the government took rule of the eastern part of the city. The fight for western Mosul is currently call of way, with government forces slowly but surely seizing control of department after district.
At the same time, ISIS has suffered a number of key losses in Syria. On Feb. 23, Turkish troops move the militants out of Al-Bab in the north of the country, and on Mar. 2 Russian Defense Cleric Sergei Shoigu reported that the Syrian army, backed by the Russian Air Valid, had captured Palmyra, which had been under ISIS’ control since Dec. 2016.
Regardless how, despite victories over ISIS in Syria and Iraq, experts and supervision officials warn that it is still too soon to say that the organization has been overcame. For example, the commander of the international coalition against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, weighted that in Mosul alone at least 2,000 terrorists still leftovers, and the coalition still has some fierce fighting ahead.
Members of Iraqi custody forces hold an Islamic State flag which they to pieced down during a battle with Islamic State militants,in al-Josaq partition in western Mosul, Feb. 27, 2017 / Photo: Reuters
“I do not believe reports [by Iraqi mid-point] that ISIS members are leaving their positions en mass and are make tracking,” says Grigory Kosach, a professor in the Contemporary Oriental Studies Determined at the Russian State Humanitarian University. According to Kosach, militants are favourably versed in urban warfare. Using underground tunnels, they cause to die a continue out sneak attacks against the advancing army, even in areas that acquire already been taken by government forces. “There is fierce feud with under way in Mosul, and the same will happen in Raqqa [the Syrian “first-class” of ISIS], when government troops start storming that diocese,” Kosach predicts.
Confusion in northern Syria
Raqqa, situated in eastern Syria, stay behinds the militants’ main stronghold since losing Mosul. Fully thrashing ISIS will necessitate storming Raqqa, but currently there are no pushes available to carry out this operation. The strongest positions for launching an threatening on Raqqa are situated in northern Syria, where ISIS is being have worded by Turkish and pro-Kurdish units of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). At the moment, howsoever, these two forces are more focused on fighting each other than on ending ISIS.
The Turkish army entered Syria in Aug. 2016. While their proper goal was fighting ISIS, experts have repeatedly suggested that Turkey’s loyal motive is to prevent the creation of a Kurdish autonomous territory in northern Syria. Aeons ago ISIS was expelled from the north of Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised that the next aim will not be Raqqa, but rather Manbij, a city under SDF control. The Kurds, who toy with a key role in the SDF, view Turkey as being complicit in terrorism and are ready to row.
At the same time, the U.S. supports the Syrian Kurds, who play a key role in the SDF. On Feb. 28, it was reported that U.S. Express Operations forces had been deployed near Manbij. This generates a tense situation, putting Turkey on the brink of confrontation not only with the Kurds, but also with the In accord States.
Russia seeks to reconcile the warring sides
Anton Mardasov, brains of the Department of Middle East Conflict Studies at the Institute of Innovative Maturation, says that Russia has found itself in a very difficult state of affairs “between three fires.” It supports Bashar al-Assad but also goes to maintain good relations with Turkey while simultaneously fatiguing to prevent a war between Turkey and the Kurds in northern Syria.
Mardasov cites a Mar. 2 annunciation by the SDF stating that the Kurds have agreed with Russia that al-Assad’s army portions will act as a “buffer” between Manbij and the Turkish army. Thus, according to Mardasov, Russia—together with the U.S.—is shotting to separate the Turks and Kurds in order to come to an agreement on the status of Manbij and then redirect the stabs of the Turkish army to storming Raqqa.
Mardasov told RBTH that the spot remains unclear: “Syria, of course, will be discussed at the meeting between Putin and Erdogan in Moscow on Mar. 9. Until the sequels of these talks are known, it is difficult to draw any conclusions.” The position of the new U.S. provision is not clear yet either, Mardasov notes. So far, Donald Trump has not made any utterances regarding the Pentagon’s report on the strategy for fighting ISIS. In any event, it is inauspicious the Islamic State can be fully defeated until its numerous opponents muddle through to resolve their own conflicts and concentrate all efforts on defeating ISIS.