BEIRUT, Lebanon – A week after Islamic State fighters attacked a prison in northeastern Syria, where they resisted despite a fierce assault by a US-backed Kurdish-led militia , the terrorist organization published its version of what had happened.
In its official magazine, it mocked the number of times in its history that its enemies had declared the Islamic State defeated. His surprise attack on the prison, he sang, had his enemies “shout in frustration, ‘They’re back!’ »
This description was not entirely wrong.
The prison battle in the city of Hasaka has killed hundreds, drawn in US troops and served as a stark reminder that three years after the collapse of the so-called Islamic State caliphate, the group’s ability to sow chaotic violence persists, experts said. On Saturday, around 60 Islamic State fighters still controlled part of the prison.
In Iraq, ISIS recently killed 10 soldiers and an officer at a military post and beheaded a policeman on camera. In Syria, it has murdered dozens of local leaders and extorts companies to finance its operations. In Afghanistan, the withdrawal of US forces in August left it fighting the Taliban, with often disastrous consequences for civilians caught in the crossfire.
The Islamic State, which once controlled a territory the size of Britain that stretched across the Syrian-Iraqi border, is no longer as powerful as it once was, but experts say it could bide its time until conditions in the unstable countries where it thrives provide it with new opportunities to grow.
“There is no American endgame in Syria or Iraq, and the prison is just one example of this failure to find a long-term solution,” said Craig Whiteside, associate professor at the US Naval War College which studies the group. “It is really only a matter of time for ISIS before another opportunity presents itself. All they have to do is hang on until then.