Washington: Despite losing its caliphate to U.S.-backed forces last month, Islamic State’s resurgence continues to gain momentum across Iraq and Syria, a new report said Friday.
“ISIS is expanding its support zones and scaling up its attack campaign in key cities including Raqqa, Mosul, and Fallujah as well as rear areas in Northern Syria and Iraqi Kurdistan,” said the report from the Institute for the Study of War, a non-partisan DC-based think tank that analyzes defense issues.
The Syrian Democratic Forces seized the last terrain controlled by IS in Syria on March 23 — an area that included a network of caves and tunnels housing tens of thousands of suspected fighters, their families and others, the report said.
The SDF transferred more than 55,000 women and children captured in the operation to the Al-Hawl Internally Displaced Persons Camp in Northern Syria near the Syrian and Iraqi Border, the report said.
“ISIS likely intended to exploit this displacement to infiltrate, destabilize, and recruit from the camps in order to create opportunities for its resurgence,” it said.
“Hardcore female followers have attacked guards and other displaced persons and burned the tents of less committed families since entering the Al-Hawl IDP Camp. ISW has thus mapped the camp as both an attack and support zone.”
“ISIS is working to rebuild its networks in Northern Babil Province. ISIS will likely use this zone to project force into Baghdad and south towards soft targets in the holy cities of Karbala and Najaf,” the report said.
When the last territory controlled by the terrorists was liberated in March, President Trump declared that their territory the U.S.-backed forces had “liberated all ISIS-controlled territory in Syria and Iraq—100 Percent of the caliphate.”
But U.S. military and intelligence officials have warned that IS would regroup and will remain a potent worldwide threat.