June 14, 2018

JOSEPH MICALLEF: An Assessment of the Islamic State in 2018.

According to the Pentagon, ISIS has been expelled from 99 percent of the territory it controlled in June 2014. As of June 2018, ISIS controlled a small triangle of territory south of Deir ez-Zor and to the west of the Euphrates Valley; a pocket in Iraq west of Al Hadar; and a third pocket east of Al Suwar, along the Syrian-Iraqi border.

In addition, much of its senior leadership, including many of its most experienced field commanders, have been killed or captured, although its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, remains at large. His death has been announced on several occasions, most recently by Russian military forces but, in the absence of any confirmation, he is presumed to still be alive.

According to unconfirmed reports, the Pentagon has been given six additional months, possibly longer, to finish final operations against ISIS in eastern Syria. It’s estimated that the ISIS militants in the two remaining pockets number several hundred fighters. With little prospect of escape, they are expected to fight tenaciously.

“And then die” is strongly implied.

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