If you rely solely on the facts, it is impossible not to admit that all the loud statements by politicians about the total defeat of the “Islamic state” (IG) in Iraq and Syria are at least premature. Of course, one cannot deny obvious success – most of the areas previously controlled by the militants in these countries have been liberated, a peaceful life is gradually being established there. It was possible to avoid the appearance of bearded bears hung with weapons under the black flags on the streets of Damascus and Baghdad, the terrorists are knocked out of all the major cities that they previously occupied and even proclaimed a caliphate there. However, the IG has not gone away. The group has supporters, followers, followers and imitators around the world. Especially in Syria and Iraq.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking on October 18 at the session of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi, acknowledged that the Islamic State group in Syria is becoming more active on the left bank of the Euphrates, in territories controlled by the forces that are supported by the Americans.
Opponent regrouped and again deployed combat operations. In March-April 2018, the leadership of the IG demanded to activate dormant cells; on July 20, the creation of two new vilayats (provinces) for Iraq and Syria was announced; on August 22, the “emir” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi called on his followers “to unite, organize and continue to attack. ” In early August, the IG launched a weekly report on their military activities with detailed information and statistics of attacks in different countries of the world – Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Philippines, Nigeria, Somalia, Egypt and others, but the central place was taken by Iraq and Syria.
The information component is one of the most important places in the activities of the IG. The organization has no problems with finances, and with the recruitment of new members, and with the receipt of weapons, including UAVs. IG was able to invest about $ 400 million seized in Iraq’s Mosul in 2014 in businesses throughout the Middle East and beyond. We should not forget about the large-scale smuggling of oil, extortion from the “subjects of the caliphate”, as well as other types of criminal activity, generating significant income. Finally, some foreign countries render very significant assistance to terrorists. For example, in 2014-2017, only Bulgaria delivered $ 2.243 billion to Syrian militants weapons and ammunition. Deliveries went through Saudi Arabia and dummy firms controlled by the CIA. According to Western sources, 33% of the weapons and 20% of the ammunition available in Syria in the hands of anti-government forces are labeled “Made in Romania”, “Made in Bulgaria”, “Made in Hungary”. And it doesn’t surprise that the positions left by the IG fighters on the Golan Heights found a container of ammunition, sukhpayk and medical preparations made in Israel.
According to data released by the US DoD in August, there are up to 17,000 militants in Iraq, their number in Syria is estimated at 14,000. IG successfully recreates powerful combat forces in these countries. The Pentagon said that at present the IS in Iraq is “more operational than its predecessor, al-Qaeda, at the peak of its activity in 2006-2007.”
The situation in Iraq is particularly alarming, where the IG not only maintains vast areas in the provinces of Anbar, Salah al-Din, Naynava and Diyala, but extends its influence to other areas, especially in the disputed Kirkuk province and even in Kurdish Suleimania .
Baghdad was forced to respond to the threat and take retaliatory measures – in July 2018, Operation Revenge of the Fallen was carried out to clean up areas from the south of Kirkuk province to the Hamrin mountain ranges (east of the Tigris River) and Jebel Makhul (west of Tiger) up to the border with Iran, covering a number of territories in the province of Diyala. Patrols and checkpoints along the main thoroughfares between Baghdad and Ramadi (Anbar Province), as well as Tikrit and Mosul, were reinforced. However, according to local authorities, many militants returned to the area, and the IS attacks still became more.
On October 20, the Iraqi command sent additional army forces to the western districts of Kirkuk, but, according to the head of the Turkmen Democratic Party, Nazim Hakiy, even reinforced units can only protect themselves, and not always. As for the IS, the terrorists move freely anywhere at night and expand the zones in which they openly operate even during the day.
As for Baghdad, in the capital, IG cells are likely to recreate their potential and are preparing for the systematic use of mined cars. According to the IG report published on one of the Internet resources of this terrorist organization, in 2017, 771 suicide attacks were committed in Syria and Iraq (that is, about two attacks daily) using mined vehicles or death row belts. And that’s not counting the shelling, hostage taking, etc.