ISIS have returned as a “clandestine” force after the depraved group was crushed by battleground defeats, according to terrifying analysis.
Experts warn the sick terrorists, that continue to inspire deadly attacks across Europe, have re-emerged as an underground guerrilla organisation in a pushback against Iraqi forces, Express UK reported.
With its dream of a Caliphate in the Middle East now dead, ISIS has switched to hit-and-run attacks aimed at undermining the government in Baghdad, according to military, intelligence and government officials.
ISIS has been reinventing itself months before Iraq announced that it had crushed the regime, according to intelligence officials who warned it would adopt guerrilla tactics when it could no longer hold territory.
US forces and their allies, commonly known as the Global Coalition, have conducted hundreds of drone strikes in the hopes of removing ISIS from their remaining strongholds in the Middle East.
But a US Department of Defence report warned an “effective clandestine ISIS organisation appears to be taking hold” as the terrorists continue to carry out a number of killings, kidnappings and bombings in Iraq.
As ISIS continue to pound their intelligence-led war, attacks in the Kirkuk province have been more than doubled in 2018 than last year, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Iraq has witnessed an increase in kidnappings and killings, mainly in the provinces of Kirkuk, Diyala, and Salahuddin, since it held an election in May, indicating the government will come under renewed pressure from a group that once occupied a third of the country during a three-year reign of terror.
Kino Gabriel, spokesperson for the Syrian Democratic Forces, said the terrorists were taking advantage of political instability in Syria and Iraq.
He told Financial Times: “Our estimation of ISIS’s power was wrong.
"We realised that there are more ISIS fighters than we thought.”
The sick terrorists have also managed to exploit the ethnic and sectarian divide in Iraq as it continues to stage a steady stream of lower-level attacks as well as a spike in kidnap and murder.
Iraqi and Kurdish forces previously fought together against ISIS, but now ties are strained over a Kurdish bid for independence last year which Baghdad stifled.
A lack of coordination has caused a security vacuum in disputed territories, from which Iraqi forces dislodged the Kurds, which has created opportunities for Islamic State.
A Kurdish security official said: “Are we expected to go into Diyala and help them clear the area then withdraw again?
"We are not being attacked in those areas, Iraqi forces are. We are not there, they expelled us.”
Military and intelligence officials have given varying estimates of how many ISIS fighters remain active in Iraq.
But Hisham al-Hashimi, an ISIS expert who advises the Iraqi government, puts the number at more than 1,000, with around 500 in desert areas and the rest in the mountains.
Yahya Rasool, spokesperson for Iraqi army’s Joint Operations Command, added: “Our war on Isis today is an intelligence war, not a military war.
“We are searching and raiding their hide-outs.”