Experts have described the regions, where ISIS has been active at, as ‘Fragile’, while others described them as regions of security vacuum, as there are no governmental troops. They call the battles taking place there as ‘warm war’ to distinguish it from ‘cold war’.
Muhanad al-Azzawi was the first strategic expert to use this term.
ISIS is known to have lost control on most of the regions, where it raised its black flags. Residents at those regions are estimated at around nine million people between western Iraq and eastern Syria.
ISIS between occurrence and end
US President Donald Trump announced, earlier this week, his country is about to declare ISIS end. Talks now are about the destiny of the fighters, captives and their families, in the wake of announcing withdrawal of 2,000 troops from east of Syria.
Few days ago, Falih al-Fayyad spoke to Der Spiegel, on the sidelines of participation in the Munich Security Conference, about new appearance of ISIS with new name and structure, maybe similar to Al-Qaeda.
Other strategic experts and Iraqi media outlets have been speaking for more than a year about the expansion of the fragile regions in Salahuddin and ISIS return to regions of Mutaibija, al-Mas-hak and Mak-houl reaching to west Biji and Shirqat.
Speaking to DW Arabia, Emad Allou, an expert in security and military issues denied that ISIS presence there have reached the extent of a threat. He indicated the intelligence information he obtained from authorities, which confirmed that number of ISIS members could amount to twenty militants. He claimed that this doesn’t urge authorities to carry out military operation against those pockets, which he described as ‘dormant cells’. He also added that many of the militants are hiding among the displaced families at refugee camps, while other fled to countries where they came from.
Allou also indicated that families of ISIS members are in need for rehabilitation to remove the impact of the ‘brainwash’ they underwent.This requires an international effort, he advised.
Munich pays attention to ISIS
The Munich Security Conference drew attention to ISIS role in the region. Experts agreed that the militant group is longer as strong as it used to be. However, it’s determined to show its presence in the region. Hassan Abu Haniya, an expert in Islamic groups affairs, highlighted the issue, stressing necessity to “discriminate between the Islamic Caliphate project and the current scene, which returned back to become an organization which works in a decentralized way with some dormant cells in Iraq and Syria.”
Reports by media outlets mentioned that number of ISIS fighters, estimated between 1000-1500 are active in a region with an area no greater than 50 square kilometers on the Iraqi-Syrian borders, CNN reported. Another report by BBC quoted Abu Haniya as saying that UN estimates the number at 20,000 to 30,000. Reports by the US intelligence estimate the number at 15,000.
Fierce attacks against ISIS.
ISIS is hit in Syria by the US-led Coalition, Syrian Democratic Forces as well as the Iraqi and Syrian government forces. However, some claims that an ISIS committee tries, through social media, to re-collect the group, which explains the recent operations in Iraq, according to Allou.
There has been recently talks about organizations like Hurrasul-Din, Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen and Jundul-Sham and Al-Nusra. Those organizations were considered by some observers as a new occurrence for old groups with new names.
According to Abu Hanya, the most important is that there is an organization with a structure and ideology, along with financial resources.
Many consider eastern Syria and western Iraq as one region, after the borders were removed by ISIS, when it established in 2014 its caliphate. However, the group worked last year on the decentralized separation between Iraq and Syria.
Thus, it’s no longer considered as one organization unit, according to Abu Hanya.