Mil­i­tants are re­vert­ing to in­sur­gency tac­tics

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Bassem Mroue

Af­ter be­ing nearly de­feated on the bat­tle­fields of its would­be caliphate, the Is­lamic State mil­i­tant group has re­verted to what it was be­fore its spec­tac­u­lar con­quests in 2014, an­a­lysts say — a shad­owy in­sur­gent net­work that tar­gets civil­ian pop­u­la­tions with guer­rilla­style at­tacks and ex­ploits state weak­nesses to in­cite sec­tar­ian strife.

In Iraq and Syria, hardly a week goes by with­out the group stag­ing an at­tack on a town or vil­lage, keep­ing its op­po­nents on edge even as it fights U.S.­backed forces ad­vanc­ing on the last re­main­ing slice of ter­ri­tory un­der its con­trol near the coun­tries’ shared bor­der.

Hisham al­Hashimi, an Is­lamic State ex­pert who ad­vises the Iraqi govern­ment, said the group now op­er­ates like it did in 2010, be­fore its rise in Iraq, which cul­mi­nated four years later with the mil­i­tants seiz­ing one of Iraq’s big­gest cities, Mo­sul, and also claim­ing the city of Raqqa in Syria and declar­ing an Is­lamic caliphate across large ar­eas of both coun­tries.

Al­Hashimi said the world’s most dan­ger­ous in­sur­gent group is try­ing to prove that de­spite los­ing its ter­ri­to­rial hold, “it still has long arms to strike.”

It’s not clear how many mil­i­tants are still fight­ing for the Is­lamic State.

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