ISIS hopes to hold onto shreds of 'caliphate' - US official

2017-03-08 22:26
A February 2 2017 photo of a receipt found in an ISIS base for taxi fare from Hit to Mosul. (AP Photo)

A February 2 2017 photo of a receipt found in an ISIS base for taxi fare from Hit to Mosul. (AP Photo)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - The Islamic State group has lost most of the land it once held in Iraq and Syria but hopes to cling to scraps of a self-declared caliphate, a US official said on Wednesday.

Since summer 2014, when ISIS was at its peak just ahead of the US-led war on the group, the jihadists have lost 65% of the land they'd seized across much of northern Syria and large parts of Iraq, the US defence official said.

ISIS now is looking beyond the seemingly inevitable loss of their strongholds of Mosul in Iraq and Raqa in Syria.

"I don't think they have given up on their vision of their caliphate yet," the official said, noting ISIS hopes to hold on to parts of eastern Syria and western Iraq.

"They still believe they can function and are still making plans to continue to function as a pseudo-state centred in the Euphrates River valley."

In Mosul, Iraqi security forces backed by Western air power have recaptured the eastern side of the city and are making gradual progress into the western side in a bloody fight.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians are believed to still be trapped under jihadist rule in the Old City, where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed a "caliphate" in his only public appearance in July 2014.

The official said Baghdadi is no longer in Mosul, and the hunt for the enigmatic figure is being led by groups outside the US-led anti-ISIS coalition, including US special operations forces.

IS jihadists realise their days are numbered in Mosul and, despite having spent two years building defensive measures in Raqa, also understand they will lose that bastion too, the official said.

"Logically, any of those leaders would look at that situation and say from a military perspective this may be not be tenable for us to hold," the official said.

"Raqa would probably not be the final battle against ISIS... There is still ISIS in the rest of the Euphrates river valley downstream that will have to be dealt with."

About 15 000 ISIS fighters remain in Iraq and Syria, including about 2 500 in Mosul and the neighbouring town of Tal Afar and as many as 4 000 still in Raqa, the official said.

Read more on:    isis  |  iraq  |  syria

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Man scores date with tennis superstar after Twitter bet

It’s a modern day Cinderella story, but one American man took ‘shoot your shot’ seriously in 2017.

 
 

You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.