ISIS will keep operating ‘even if it loses all territory in Iraq, Syria’

IHS Jane’s says attacks in Syria increased even after Russian air strikes began.

February 25, 2016 01:45
2 minute read.
ISIS Kurds

A militiaman of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Tel Tawil village, northeast Syria, fires an anti-aircraft weapon in the direction of Islamic State fighters. (photo credit: RODI SAID / REUTERS)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


Even if Islamic State loses all of the territory it controls in Syria and Iraq, it will continue to function and carry out attacks, the head of IHS Jane’s Terrorism & Insurgency Center told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

“The Islamic State insurgency will not end if or when all territory is recaptured in Iraq and Syria. The group will return to its pre-January 2015 operational model of destabilizing mass-casualty attacks in urban centers alongside low-level insurgent operations, ensuring that if it cannot fully control these cities, then neither will Baghdad or Damascus,” said Matthew Henman, head of the IHS JTIC.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

This has already been observed in operations in Ramadi over the course of January, and this will be replicated in cities like Mosul, if or when they are recaptured by Baghdad, he said.


“The current absence of a central state in Syria further highlights the difficulties that will be faced in the coming months/years in overturning Islamic State’s presence therein.

“Furthermore, the expansion of Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate beyond Iraq and Syria means that the group’s campaign will not end even if every square inch of territory is recaptured in Iraq and Syria and every Islamic State militant there is killed,” he added.

Islamic State cannot be stopped by force alone, argued Henman.


Interestingly, Henman pointed out that attacks in Syria actually increased even after Russian air strikes began.

“Following the start of air strikes and Russian intervention in late September 2015, the number of Islamic State attacks in Iraq declined in the last quarter of the year; however, the number of attacks in Syria increased,” he said.

“This is somewhat a consequence of the growing pressure Islamic State has come under in Iraq,” Henman said.

“In Syria, the group has had more room to maneuver and, at least for the time being, retained the ability to relocate fighters between different front lines.”

According to IHS Jane’s JTIC database, there were a total of 935 attacks claimed by or attributed to Islamic State between 1 October and 31 December 2015, an average of 10.2 attacks per day.

This is a 5.6 percent decrease in the average daily attack numbers from the preceding quarter (1 July to 30 September).

However, the average daily attack figure was 5.2% higher than the preceding 12-month average of 9.7 attacks per day.

As pressure grows on Islamic State from the broad spectrum of actors arrayed against it and its territory comes under threat, the group is likely to deploy a relatively elastic defense, retreating from areas of less strategic value or where there is little to be gained by fighting, explained Henman.

Fighting against air strikes is a very costly proposition, he said.

Ramadi is a good example of a case where Islamic State decided to take a stand in order to inflict the maximum casualties on attacking forces, said Henman, adding that its defense took weeks to overcome and left well over 100 Iraqi security force personnel dead.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter looks down the road to Makhmur
September 21, 2018
A year after referendum, Kurds in Iraq face Iran and US powerbrokers