A month after the declaration of the end of the Caliphate: Is the terrorist ISIS still a source of threat in Iraq and Syria?

A month after the declaration of the end of the Caliphate: Is the terrorist ISIS still a source of threat in Iraq and Syria?

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A month after the declaration of the elimination of the alleged “caliphate”, the legacy of the terrorist organization ISIS weighs heavily on the forces of Syria’s democratic, which undertake the responsibility of the administration of prisons filled with fighters and camps crowded with their followers, while the organization is continuing to lunch bloody attacks targeting the Kurds and the Syrian regime forces , SDF announced in March 23 the elimination of the “Caliphate ” of the terrorist organization after its expulsion with the support of the American-led international coalition from his last pocket in the far east of the Syrian, to be confined to sleeping cells and fighters spread in desert areas, and despite the declaration of the elimination of ISIS geographically after the size of its area in 2014, equivalent to the size of Britain, but the organization still poses a real threat to both the Kurds and their partner ,the international coalition and the forces of the Syrian regime.
According to military analyzes, the organization was defeated as a caliphate, but the truth does not conceal the extent of the influence it still enjoys through a network of agents capable of carrying out orders. Analyzes indicated also that the majority of those are local people who are protected by their own tribes and local communities indicating that the new strategy of the organization of the rebellion depends largely on maintaining strong relations with some local clans in eastern Syria and western Iraq.
The current situation raises the concern at the best of times, and a clear, strong and constructive role in Syria and Iraq is more urgent than ever. Perhaps ISIS has lost its alleged positions for ever , but the organization remains to pose a terrorist and military threat. , and US intelligence estimations indicate that there are about 15 to 20 thousand fighters of the «Da’ash» active and distributed throughout all of Iraq and Syria .

The attacks of ISIS in Iraq are witnessing a continuous escalation every month in various cities and provinces, in addition to the many car bombs that exploded in the city of Mosul in the past few weeks, a city that is still witnessing a clear presence of elements of the organization involved in networks of violence and extended extortion and there are , at least 1,000 of ISIS fighters who have recently arrived to Anbar province coming from Syria, carrying about $ 200 million in financial support, according to estimates.
In Syria itself, attacks of the terrorist organization elements are increased in line with the sleeper cell networks, which are slowly being activated, with nightly checkpoints scattered in and out of the governorate of Deir al-Zour on a daily basis, indicating that this is not the normal situation for a defeated group militarily at all.
Military analysis, therefore, suggests that the organization of the terrorist ISIS is still to pose a continuing threat.
The attacks of the terrorist organization have fallen from a year ago, but they are still able to launch it regularly every week. In an effort to support the Kurds, Washington announced earlier that it would keep 400 US troops in Syria after its sudden decision to withdraw all its troops, but the military analysizes suggests the organization is very active and will remain so ,and the low number of US troops will not fully solve this dilemma and the danger of the organization is not linked with its capabilities to launch attacks only but thousands of fighters , captured by Syria’s democratic forces over years of Syrians, Iraqis and foreigners from dozens of countries , pose a major challenge, and those are placed in self-management Kurdish prisons in the north and north-east of Syria, and the Kurds are permanently calling the Western countries, especially the coalition countries, to assume their responsibilities and to restore its citizens to stand trial on its territory, and with the hesitation of the majority of countries, they called for the establishment of a special international Court for trial in Syria.

Abdel Karim Omar , head of the office of External Relations in self –government said , “We have called for the formation of a special international Court to prosecute these terrorists, because the crime of murder, displacement, and destruction took place in this region ,the extremist organization faces charges of atrocities such as mass executions, rape, in areas of its control, apart from carrying out bloody attacks around the world,
“Our priority is to prosecute criminals ,”Omar said , without specifying their exact total.
According to military analysis, “neither Syria nor Iraq has the resources or the political stability to manage such a large number of prisoners.” Observers fear that the prisons and camps, where the families of the fighters are in , may pose a reason for the revival of the organization again m and Sofan Center for security affairs warned in its report on April 12 of the danger of “turning detention centers into fertile ground” for more radical, warning at the same time that the fighters may try to escape from prisons, and Kurdish self-management demands the international community to support it to build new prisons ready and provide the necessary protection for them as well as to provide more support for the camps, where tens of thousands of displaced people and members of the families of fighters of the organization are placed .
The quick look at the statements related to the campaign on the terrorist ISIS of the current challenges is more worrying , as Iraq currently holds about 20,000 prisoners linked to al-Da’ash, along with 20,000 others held in Syria, who are to be transferred to Iraq , and tens of thousands of civilian citizens with unregulated links to the terrorist organization live in internally displaced persons camps in Iraq, while tens of thousands of Iraqi children are still without specific nationality, with the constant rejection of Baghdad government to recognize their birth under the rule of former ISIS.
In Syria, there are more than 100,000 citizens who have lived under the rule of ISIS , who are now in camps for internally displaced persons, along with 77,000 others coming from the village of Bagouz, the last liberated stronghold of the terrorist organization in the country , as well as 7,000 Da’ash fighters , Including a thousand foreign fighters, are being held inside the prisons of Syria’s democratic forces. However, the Syrian Democratic Forces command has warned that they will not be able to hold them for longer period than that. These heavy pressures on the resources of SDF resulted to release hundreds of fighters of the terrorist organization towards the east of Syria, as it is known in the media by the name (clan deals) and the figures mentioned refer to everything except the end of the terrorist organization. In fact, it seems that the threat of “da’ash” will continue to accompany us in that affected area.

The question is: What does the fall of the organization mean to the future of Islamic militancy in the world?
Although the core territory of the organization was in Iraq and Syria, it was supported by militants in other countries, particularly in Nigeria, Yemen and Afghanistan. The question remains unanswered. Will these groups continue to wear the mantle of organization, especially if Baghdadi is captured or fell dead, but there is little chance that these groups will stop their campaigns soon. Al-Qaeda has many branches around the world, and other hard line Islamic groups are operating in countries where regimes have collapsed. It has long been proven that hard- line ideas are able to shift as circumstances change, as wars, injustice, oppression, poverty, sectarianism and even explicit hatred religious are not in need of the organization.

Iraqi Studies Unit
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies