Kurdish Leader: ISIS Is Bigger Now than Six Years Ago

(Atlantic) Mike Giglio and Kathy Gilsinan - The Islamic State has lost all of its territory; tens of thousands of its fighters have been killed or are imprisoned; and its former leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is dead. But "ISIS is still very much intact," Masrour Barzani, the prime minister of Iraqi Kurdistan, said in an interview. They've "managed to gain more experience and to recruit more people." He said ISIS still has 20,000 fighters across Iraq and Syria. (U.S. officials put the number at 10,000 when ISIS announced its caliphate in 2014.) It is still carrying out 60 attacks a month in Iraq alone against security forces and local rivals as it regroups around a core of hardened fighters. The Pentagon's inspector general said in a report last week that Baghdadi's death has not disrupted ISIS' command structure or operations. The UN said in a report last month that ISIS still has at least $100 million in its reserves and has begun to reassert itself in Iraq and Syria. Barzani said the main reason for the ISIS resurgence is the persistence of the same conditions that allowed it to rise up in the first place: failure to solve problems such as corruption, poor governance, sectarianism, and economic malaise. Much of the Sunni-majority areas that were ISIS strongholds still lie in destruction, and some are now under the control of Iran-backed Shiite militias, which have antagonized much of the local population.

2020-02-19 00:00:00

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