The ISIS Situation
On Tuesday, Feb. 28 in front of a joint session of Congress, President Trump said that he has “directed the Department of Defense to develop a plan to demolish and destroy ISIS.” He also vowed to “work with our allies, including our friends and allies in the Muslim world, to extinguish this vile enemy from our planet.”
ISIS has continued to lose ground in the past couple of months, as Iraqi security forces press farther into Western Mosul. According to Al Jazeera News, the Iraqi forces have captured “a neighborhood along the Tigris River and the foot of one of the city's five bridges amid intense clashes with ISIL fighters.”
The struggle to recapture the bridges is of critical importance in the battle. The five bridges connect the eastern and western parts of the city, and security forces have slowly worked to secure them after they were disabled by air strikes.
ISIS’s brutal tactics have slowed the movement of Iraqi troops. The group is employing “snipers, anti-tank missiles and suicide car bombs.” Nonetheless, the Iraqi government is “fully committed” to expelling the terrorist group from Mosul. Al Jazeera also reported that approximately 750,000 people remain in the western half of Mosul under ISIS rule.
They additionally report that Syrian government forces have retaken much of the ancient city of Palmyra. The troops have slowly made headway into the city, and have not yet entered the center or eastern parts of it. As ISIS fighters retreated, they left mines and suicide bombers behind, hindering the progress of the Russian- backed Syrian troops.
ISIS’s territory is shrinking steadily. Syrian and Iraqi soldiers are steadily liberating two of Syria’s very few controlled population centers. Al Jazeera notes that “Kurdish fighters have made gains in the northern part of Syria,” further reducing ISIS territory. Turkish troops have also joined the fight, expelling ISIS from Jarabellus.
The terror group has also threatened China. Foreignpolicy.com (FP) reports that in a recent video, ISIS fighters pledged “to shed blood like rivers.” The Site Intelligence Group translated and analyzed the video, which is believed to be the first direct ISIS threat against China.
Experts consulted by FP said,“China entered the terrorist group’s crosshairs over its treatment of ethnic minority Muslims, the Uighurs.” Dru Gladley, a professor at Pomona College and an expert on Western China, told FP that “the video could garner ISIS more publicity in western China and spark inspiration for new attacks.” This could be an attempt for the group to gain fresh notoriety and troops to reinvigorate itself.
Ground reports on ISIS have been sparse from major news sources. Despite this, Al Jazeera has continued providing coverage on the war, painting a hopeful picture of ISIS retreat and renewed government control.