The imminent fall of the Islamic State in the city of Mosul likely does not mean the end of the terrorist group’s operations in Iraq and across the world, U.S. generals warn.
“The fall of Mosul doesn’t mean ISIS has been defeated,” Canadian Armed Forces Brig.-Gen. D.J. Anderson of Operation Inherent Resolve declared to reporters Thursday. “We’ve got a good 10-12 months worth of business,” he added, noting the terrorist group’s nascent presence in some Iraqi cities, and continued operations throughout Syria.
The U.S.-backed Iraqi Security Forces’ push on the city of Mosul has taken nearly eight months, and has led to hopes that its end would signal the final stage of the battle against the terrorist group.
“When I consider how much damage we’ve inflicted and they’re still operational, they’re still capable of pulling off things like some of these attacks we’ve seen internationally.” Nagata’s continued “we have to conclude that we do not yet fully appreciate the scale or strength of this phenomenon,” U.S. Army Special Forces Lt. Gen Michael K. Nagata lamented in comments highlighted by The New York Times Saturday.
Outside Iraq, the U.S. is supporting a coalition of Syrian fighters in a push on ISIS’s capital of Raqqa. The fight is in its earliest stages and has already seen heavy fighting by the terrorist group, including its signature tactic of deploying waves of suicide bombers to slow conventional forces. The U.S. military anticipates months more of resistance in the city. U.S. airpower also continues to hunt ISIS sanctuaries in other Syrian cities but the group has proven adept at hiding its core leaders from drone strikes.
Even once the terrorist group is defeated in Iraq and Syria, it can continue to rely on its affiliates across the globe. Thousands of miles from Iraq and Syria, ISIS’s affiliate in Afghanistan has hundreds of fighters fiercely resisting the U.S.-backed Afghan National Security Forces. The group also has active affiliates in Egypt, Libya, and the Philippines, all of which could be used to mount external attacks in the West.
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