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ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
ISIS is fighting for its life
After losing vast swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, and with its capital in Raqqa under threat of attack, ISIS seems to be fighting for its life and its grip on power.
People were waiting with baited breath for the new ISIS video last week. The terror group put out promos for the highly anticipated video – anticipated particularly due to the fact that the promos came out only two days after an EgyptAir flight flying from Paris to Cairo crashed into the Mediterranean.

 

 

However, several hours after the video was supposed to have been released, ISIS disappointed its audience by only releasing an audio message from its spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, as opposed to another snazzy, sleek video which its audience has become accustomed to.

 

The spokesman didn't talk at all about the EgyptAir crash which claimed the lives of 66 people, but instead called on ISIS supporters to carry out attacks in the US in Europe during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan which begins on June 6th. Al-Adnani specifically called for attacks on the European League Soccer Championships taking place in France.

Iraqi special forces soldiers (Photo:AP)
Iraqi special forces soldiers (Photo:AP)

 

However, the ISIS spokesperson's remarks might actually be calls of distress. He said "even if you (speaking to the Americans) re-take Mosul (Iraq), Sirte (Libya), Raqqa (Syria), and all of our cities, you still won't succeed. We'll fight to the death."

 

It seems that ISIS is indeed fighting for its life in every sense of the word, and is now standing at one of the most critical junctures since it was founded and began to shake the world.

 

Iraqi soldiers near Fallujah (Photo: AFP)
Iraqi soldiers near Fallujah (Photo: AFP)

 

The terror group is losing territory, strengthening strongholds  

After succeeding in taking over immense territory in Iraq and Syria, it seems that the trend has reversed for ISIS, with the organization losing a great deal of territory in recent months.

 

Iraqi soldiers near Fallujah (Photo: AFP)
Iraqi soldiers near Fallujah (Photo: AFP)

 

"ISIS's presence has diminished in Iraqi cities and regions," said a document released by an Iraqi government spokesperson. It continued saying, "after being in control of 40% of Iraq, the terror group is now in control of only 14% of the country."

 

Last month, a document put out by the US-led coalition said that ISIS lost approximately 45 percent of its territory in Iraq and 20 percent in Syria. The bottom line is; only Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq remain completely under the organization's control.

 

However, despite this control, it seems that ISIS has one primary reason to worry. If the Iraqi Army operation to free Fallujah succeeds, especially after Ramadi was already cleansed of ISIS fighters, the next city on the list to be liberated will probably be Mosul. It seems that all parties involved in Iraq have realized that, despite their hatred of one another, they will have to work together if they wish to drive out ISIS.

 

Iraqi special forces soldiers on their way to Fallujah (Photo:AFP)
Iraqi special forces soldiers on their way to Fallujah (Photo:AFP)

 

That's the only reason that Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (otherwise known as al-Hashd a-Sha'abi), headed by Iranian al-Quds forces commander Qassem Soleimani, is cooperating with the Iraqi Military in its fight against ISIS in Fallujah. Soleimani arrived to the battlefront to personally oversee the liberation of Fallujah.

 

Iraqi tribal militias, Iraqi Police Forces, and Iraqi Special Forces are also joining the fight to liberate the city, while the US-led coalition is providing air cover.

 

Destination: Raqqa, Syria

The hour also draws near in ISIS's Raqqa stronghold in Syria. After losing Tadmur and Palmyria in the center of the country, ISIS now only controls parts of north-eastern Syria, the area surrounding Deir-Ezzor, and certain areas in and around Aleppo (an ISIS affiliate controls territory on the Israeli border with Syria).

 

A group calling itself the "Syrian Democratic Forces," (SDF) comprised of both local Kurds and Arabs, have announced an operation to take control of territory north of Raqqa. The ultimate goal of the operation is to liberate the city of Raqqa itself.

 

ISIS in Mosul (Photo: AP)
ISIS in Mosul (Photo: AP)

 

However, this force is hated by the other rebel groups, including the so called "Free Syrian Army" (FSA). The SDF are suspected of working with the Assad regime and doing its dirty work. The US isn't a big fan of them either, and will be monitoring the SDF's battles closely.

 

The London based Arabic newspaper Al Rai Al Youm claimed over the weekend that ISIS spokesman al-Adnani has been entrusted by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to lead the defense of the city of Raqqa due to al-Adnani's military experience. The newspaper also reported that the SDF still hasn't made any substantial progress in their operation.

 

One thing is clear however – the pressure on ISIS is increasing from every direction. To this regard, it's important to note a US report which says that the number of people joining ISIS is decreasing. Never-the-less, it's still too early to eulogize the terror organization, which has already proven several times before that it can overcome hardships and obstacles which stand in its way.

 

 

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