Source: Associated Press
By BASSEM MROUE
BEIRUT (AP) — After being nearly defeated on the battlefields of its would-be caliphate, the Islamic State group has reverted to what it was before its spectacular conquests in 2014, analysts say — a shadowy insurgent network that targets civilian populations with guerrilla-style 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 al-Hashimi, an IS 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.
Al-Hashimi 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.”