World: Hundreds of Islamic State militants are slipping back into Iraq. Their fight isn’t over. - PressFrom - US
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WorldHundreds of Islamic State militants are slipping back into Iraq. Their fight isn’t over.

01:20  22 july  2019
01:20  22 july  2019 Source:   washingtonpost.com

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Thousands of Islamic State fighters are still at large in Iraq and Syria, rearming and regrouping. And the group pose threats elsewhere, in Afghanistan Even before an American- backed Kurdish and Arab militia ousted the last extremist fighters from the eastern Syrian village of Baghuz on Saturday

And what does he do when he's not fighting Islamic State ? Is he, as some believe, a university lecturer in Islamic Although the militias were credited with saving Baghdad from being overrun by the militant group, many feared a return of the And what of the time after Islamic State is vanquished?

Hundreds of Islamic State militants are slipping back into Iraq. Their fight isn’t over.
Hundreds of Islamic State militants are slipping back into Iraq. Their fight isn’t over.
Hundreds of Islamic State militants are slipping back into Iraq. Their fight isn’t over.

QAIM, Iraq —Islamic State militants who escaped the defeat of their caliphate in Syria earlier this year have been slipping across the border into Iraq, bolstering a low-level insurgency the group is now waging across the central and northern part of the country, according to security officials.

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Iraq has offered to try all foreign fighters held by the SDF. Several hundreds have been transferred for trial by Iraqi courts but none have so far been executed. The vast majority of IS militants are believed to have been either killed or captured. Researchers suggest at least 7,000 have travelled back to their countries of origin. French Islamic State accused handed over to face trial in Iraq .

Islamic State ’s last stronghold, Raqqa, has fallen. But the world’s attention must now focus on what it or other Islamist groups will plot next.

About 1,000 fighters have crossed into Iraq over the past eight months, most of them in the aftermath of the caliphate’s collapse in March, said Hisham al-Hashimi, a security analyst who advises Iraq’s government and foreign aid agencies.

These fighters, mostly Iraqis who followed the Islamic State into Syria, are now returning home to join militant cells that have been digging into rugged rural areas, sustained by intimate knowledge of the local terrain, including concealed tunnels and other hiding places.

The militants move under the cover of darkness to carry out sniper attacks and rudimentary roadside bombings several times a week.

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"The Islamic State isn ' t anywhere near the zenith of its power, but it isn ' t an ant hill either," he said. On the higher end, independent estimates say in addition to hundreds of IS militants putting up a fight against U.S.- backed forces in areas along the Syria- Iraq border, there could be another 7,000 to 9

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria grew out of Al Qaeda in Iraq , the militant group that American forces fought during their war there. But while the capabilities of the militants have grown, the Iraq ’s military’s effectiveness has diminished. Adding to that challenge is the fact that the group controls

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Their attacks, occurring outside major cities, are often opportunistic and primarily target community leaders and security forces involved in efforts to root them out. An explosion earlier this month in the northern city of Kirkuk killed two motorcyclists. A separate attack in Diyala, in eastern Iraq, targeted militiamen assigned with hunting down militants.

Islamic State media has published grainy videos showing the assassination of paramilitaries and local notables, such as “mokhtars,” tasked with helping security forces identify individuals linked to extremist group.

“I warn all the mokhtars that the Islamic State can reach anywhere they want,” said one abductee in a video released earlier this year, addressing community figures like him who had cooperated with government forces.

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The Islamic State militant group releases a video purporting to show the beheading of US journalist James Foley, seized in Syria in 2012. Image caption In the undated video of James Foley, the masked militant accuses the US of attacking IS daily in Iraq .

Since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the government of Iran has been accused by several countries of training, financing, and providing weapons and safe havens for non- state militant actors

Even truffle hunters have been kidnapped, apparently after roaming too close to the militants’ desert hideouts.

Iraqi security forces announced earlier this month the start of a new military campaign to secure and clear the desert along the country’s 370-mile border with Syria. Within days, they reported the discovery of bombmaking factories and said several militants had been killed.

On the ground, the challenge of uprooting Islamic State fighters appears daunting.

“Look at where they’re hiding. It’s deserts. It’s caves. It’s places no one can ever fully control,” said Col. Saad Mohammed as he drove through the rocky desert of western Anbar province, gesturing across a vast open expanse. “How many units would we need to secure every inch? Too many. No one has that capacity.”

A veteran of the campaign that defeated the Islamic State caliphate, Mohammed said he had fought in every major battle that Iraqi army forces waged in ousting the group, taking seven bullets to the chest in a firefight near the dusty border town of Qaim in 2017.

The Iraqi government announced its victory over the Islamic State’s caliphate in November 2017, a month after security forces ran the militants out of Qaim, located on the east bank of the Euphrates River.

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Amnesty International says it has new evidence Islamic State militants are carrying out "a wave of They include the mass murder of hundreds of Shia soldiers or militia captured in Tikrit, the similar Syrian Kurdish fighters have been clashing with IS for over a year without help, often defeating Reported atrocities by Islamic State ( IS ) in Iraq . At least 1,000 members of the Yazidi faith are

By Isabel Coles BARTELLA, Iraq (Reuters) - Their husbands, sons and brothers are dead, but the women and children Islamic State militants left behind will live to pay the price for their actions. As Islamic State 's days of ruling over vast swathes of Iraq come to an end, questions are emerging.

This spring, Iraqi soldiers looked across the river into Syria as the group made its final stand. U.S.-backed forces surrounded tens of thousands of the Islamic State’s most die-hard adherents in the Syrian village of Baghouz, many of them hiding underground, during a weeks-long battle for the last remaining half square mile claimed by the caliphate. The Euphrates trembled under airstrikes, soldiers said, and carried away the corpses of men who drowned as they attempted to escape.

The scene along the river is quiet now, but fugitive Islamist militants are continuing to slip across the frontier into Iraq, often disguised as shepherds, at times undetected and with their destination unknown, according to security officials. Some militants travel on foot. More commonly, they snake through the desert in cars, at times detected by surveillance drones and targeted by Iraqi or U.S.-led coalition airstrikes.

When the Islamic State fighters are cornered, they hit back fiercely. “Then, they’re fighting for their lives,” said an Iraqi military commander.

Describing a recent raid on an Islamic State hideout near the western town of Rutba, another senior military official said the helicopter transporting his soldiers was targeted with rocket-propelled grenades even before they reached the ground. “These are tough fights. They’re not giving up,” he said. Both officers spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak with the news media.

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Islamic State fighters were believed to be hiding out nearby.CreditIvor Prickett for The New York As early as 2006, the militants renamed themselves the “ Islamic State of Iraq ” — even though they held Throughout cleared areas, Islamic State members are believed to have melted back into the

Iraqi forces continue their most ambitious fight against the Islamic State . Eight Islamic State fighters in pickup trucks mounted with machine guns had arrived at their house at The family members were separated during their escape, and militants on motorbikes recaptured some of them

The Islamic State cells are confined largely to rural hinterlands, according to Iraq’s Defense Ministry and analysts tracking the group. There are few indications that the group can once again control large amounts of territory or win significant support, but experts warn that the low-level insurgency can terrorize communities into turning a blind eye to the militants’ activity as they dig in, preparing for a longer-term struggle.

“It doesn’t necessarily need to win people over in order to cow them into collaboration of noncooperation,” said Sam Heller, an expert with the International Crisis Group.

During their sweep to power, the Islamic State cast itself as the protector of Sunni Muslim communities facing persecution by the Iraqi state, dominated by Shiite Muslims. Since then, the rise and fall of the group has torn Iraq’s national fabric, dividing communities and contributing to the destruction of entire districts as the U.S.-led coalition fought grinding battles to dislodge the militants.

The brutality of the extremists and the trauma of war, combined with the stigma attached to any involvement with the group, are encouraging some civilians to share information with Iraq’s security services, according to local residents. The fighters’ immediate, and sometimes more distant, relatives are frequently blocked from returning home to their villages.

“In 2013 and 2014, it’s now clear that many people did not fully understand what ISIS was, or how it was meaningfully different to other groups opposing the state,” said Heller. “Now, a lot of these same communities have collectively expelled [anyone] with a perceived link.”

Along the road to Qaim, the scars left by earlier battles with the Islamic State are still visible. Life has trickled back into some towns, but others remain ghostly quiet, homes and businesses reduced to rubble by airstrikes. Many people are missing, and their families are not sure whether they are alive or dead.

“The people of Anbar are keener than even the government not to return to life under ISIS,” said Sheikh Ahmed al-Sanad, a community elder, reached by phone.

But in its propaganda, the Islamic State remains steadfast. “The war is not finished yet,” said the narrator of a gruesome video released last month, which included footage of nighttime assassinations. “There are many chapters between us and you, and they will be written with blood.”

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