As Iraqi government forces retake the city of Mosul, ISIS terrorists have been attempting to blend in with the mass of refugees leaving the city. Iraqi forces have been utilizing local informants to help them identify and round up the terrorists for arrest and later execution.
The ISIS terrorists have a lot to fear, both from the government forces and from the people whom they’ve subjected to terror the last few years. Mosul is the “second city” of Iraq, after Baghdad. ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a global Islamic caliphate in the city in June 2014. Since that time ISIS forces have spread throughout Iraq and Syria, killing men who resist and enslaving women and children. They have also placed women into sexual slavery to serve at the pleasure of their fighters.
After years of fighting, ISIS now finally appears on the brink of collapse. In fact, al-Baghdadi has just declared defeat, urging his remaining fighters to either kill themselves or flee. ISIS is now on the run and losing territory, with the U.K. defense minister expecting ISIS forces to be removed from the major Iraqi cities by the end of this year. U.S. President Trump has also promised to remove the scourge of ISIS from the “face of the earth.” This now seems possible.
The danger is that even after ISIS falls, the radical ideology which led to its rise will remain. U.S., U.K., Iraqi, and allied forces will need to continue to work in Iraq and Syria to ensure that a new terror group does not rise from the ashes of ISIS or that al-Qaeda does not simply swoop in to fill the void left by ISIS.
Another issue which will need to be handled is that of the Kurds and their territorial aspirations. As one of the strongest and most successful opponents of ISIS, they may rightly expect a reward for their efforts, such as greater self-governance or an independent state. This will likely rankle Turkey, Russia, Iraq, Iran, and others.
Those issues lie in the future, however. For now, we can be happy that ISIS is on the run and nearing defeat.