Taking stock of the conflagration in Iraq and Syria at year’s end, Wayne White sees the jihadist group on the defensive:
Despite the jitters many have concerning the sweep of Islamic State forces, the view from the IS capital of Raqqa is hardly rosy. Still stalled in front of embattled Kobani, IS could not stop a sweeping Iraqi Kurdish, Yazidi, and Iraqi Army drive across northern Iraq to take Sinjar Mountain (again rescuing Yazidi refugees) and wrest from IS much of the town of Sinjar by December 21. Back in mid-December, the Pentagon also confirmed that an air strike killed Haji Mutazz, a deputy to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as well as the IS military operations chief for Iraq, and the IS “governor” of Mosul. Meanwhile, daily coalition air strikes grind away at various targets within IS’s “caliphate” (now increasingly wracked by shortages).
The implications of ISIS’s retreat from Sinjar are significant; Khales Joumah reports that the group’s grip on Mosul may be weakening as a result:
In the city of Mosul itself it seems as though ISIS is at a loss. Members of ISIS are still on the city’s streets but most of the foreign fighters appear to have gone.