Expert to Post: ISIS may lose territory but will be hard fight

By
October 23, 2015 04:46

“While it may lose territory in Iraq it will be hard fought and will be far more difficult to displace from major urban centers such as Mosul and Falluja."

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Map charting ISIS attacks. (photo credit: IHS JANE’S TERRORISM AND INSURGENCY CENTRE (JTIC))

Attacks by Islamic State spiked between July and September with a 40 percent uptick in daily attacks globally, according to a study released Thursday.

In the three months between July 1 and September 30, IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre (JTIC) recorded, using open sources, a total of 1,086 attacks by the terrorist organization worldwide.

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The 11.8 attacks per day in these three months represented a 39% increase from the 8.5 attacks per day over the preceding 12 months.

“On a global scale there was relatively little in the way of nominal territorial expansion by the Islamic State in the past three months,” said Matthew Henman, head of IHS JTIC.

“Instead, the Islamic State maintained its strategy of expanding and consolidating local territorial control within its existing structure of provinces.”

Asked by The Jerusalem Post if he sees Islamic State losing territory, Henman responded that Islamic State is coming under increasing territorial pressure, particularly in Iraq, as demonstrated by the recent recapture of Baiji.

“While it may lose territory in Iraq it will be hard fought and will be far more difficult to displace from major urban centers such as Mosul and Falluja,” he said.

Henman added that “such losses will likely be offset by minor territorial advances in Syria and other peripheral theatres such as Libya.”

The report highlights Islamic State activity across the area that it has claimed as its territory, including Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, the North Caucasus and Algeria, in addition to the group’s operational heartland in Iraq and Syria.

The organization’s assaults during the reporting period in Nigeria by its African affiliate, Wilayat Gharb Afriqiyya (better known as Boko Haram), had a higher death toll than recorded Islamic State attacks in Syria and had the highest average fatalities per attack of any province.

“This underlines the nature of the group’s insurgency in Nigeria and several bordering countries, with its operations characterized by mass-casualty operations targeting the civilian population in the group’s northeast operational heartland,” Henman said.

Boko Haram has continued its attacks “despite a multinational counterinsurgency that has been ongoing since March,” he added.

Asked about how much violence is coming from affiliates as opposed to the main organization, Henman replied that the vast majority of operations were in Iraq and Syria, where the overall leadership exerts operational control.

“While violence in other affiliate areas is a minority, this is growing, and is conducted according to clear strategic direction provided by the center,” he said.


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