WASHINGTON: The Islamic State group is weakened but a resurgence is possible if the United States leaves Iraq, US Major General Alexus Grynkewich, the number two commander for the international...
WASHINGTON: The Islamic State group is weakened but a resurgence is possible if the United States leaves Iraq, US Major General Alexus Grynkewich, the number two commander for the international anti-jihadist coalition in Iraq and Syria, said Thursday. The group "certainly still remain a threat," he said. "They have the potential to resurge if we take pressure off of them for too long."
The general said he did not see the threat of an immediate IS comeback. "But the more time we take pressure off of them, the more of that threat will continue to grow," he said. At a Pentagon press conference, he said the structural weakness of IS is shown by their failure to take advantage of demonstrations in Iraq calling for political reforms since October. More than 460 protesters have been killed, and demonstrators are angry that few Iraqi security personnel have been charged for the violence. The allies at the heart of the international coalition have over the last few months been evaluating the position of the militant movement whose self-declared "caliphate" once spanned parts of Iraq and Syria. It collapsed last March after years of battle with coalition-backed forces.
IS went underground and reverted to well-honed guerrilla tactics that continued to do damage. The coalition wanted to determine whether the group is "executing some sort of strategic patience, waiting for an opportunity that they can exploit, or are they truly on the ropes a bit more and lacking in capability and capacity?" Grynkewich said. He said the Iraqi protests helped the coalition to refine its assessment "that it´s actually ISIS is a little bit more on the lack of capability and capacity side, than strategically patient," using another acronym for the militants. Tensions between Washington and Tehran boiled over onto Iraqi soil this month. The US killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad and Tehran retaliated against an Iraqi base hosting American soldiers, some of whom were hurt.