BEIRUT (Reuters) – Islamic State looks about to lose its last foothold on the banks of the Euphrates in Syria, but though its era of territorial rule may have been expunged for now, there is near universal agreement that the group remains a threat.
WHAT HAS ITS TERRITORIAL DEFEAT ACCOMPLISHED?
Islamic - State - Possession - Land - Iraq
Islamic State’s possession of land in Iraq and Syria set it apart from other like-minded groups such as al Qaeda and became central to its mission when it declared a caliphate in 2014, claiming sovereignty over all Muslim lands and peoples.
Destroying the quasi-state it built there denies the group its most potent propaganda and recruiting tool as well as a logistical base from which it could train fighters and plan coordinated attacks overseas.
Subjects - Executions - Punishment - Laws - Minorities
It also freed its former subjects from summary executions and draconian punishment for breaking its strict laws or, for some minorities, sexual slavery and slaughter.
Warfare wiped out thousands of its fighters. And, financially, its defeat deprives it of greater resources than any modern jihadist movement has enjoyed, including taxes on its inhabitants and the proceeds of oil sales.
THREAT - DOES - ISLAMIC - STATE - STILL
WHAT THREAT DOES ISLAMIC STATE STILL POSE IN IRAQ AND SYRIA?
In its previous guise as an al Qaeda offshoot in Iraq a decade ago, it navigated adversity by going underground, biding its time to rise suddenly again.
Losses - IS - Tactics - Sleeper - Cells
Since suffering devastating territorial losses in 2017, IS has steadily turned again to such tactics. Sleeper cells in Iraq have staged a scatter-gun campaign of kidnappings and killings to undermine the Baghdad government.
The group has also carried out many bombings in northeast Syria, which is controlled by U.S.-backed Kurdish forces, including one that killed four Americans in January. Kurdish and U.S. officials say its threat there persists.
Syria - Fighters - Desert - Area - Road
In Syria, its fighters still hold out in the remote desert area near the road from Damascus to Deir al-Zor.
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