Even if Islamic State loses all of the territory it controls in Syria and Iraq, it will continue to function and carry out attacks, the head of IHS Jane’s Terrorism & Insurgency Center told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
“The Islamic State insurgency will not end if or when all territory is recaptured in Iraq and Syria. The group will return to its pre-January 2015 operational model of destabilizing mass-casualty attacks in urban centers alongside low-level insurgent operations, ensuring that if it cannot fully control these cities, then neither will Baghdad or Damascus,” said Matthew Henman, head of the IHS JTIC.
This has already been observed in operations in Ramadi over the course of January, and this will be replicated in cities like Mosul, if or when they are recaptured by Baghdad, he said.
“The current absence of a central state in Syria further highlights the difficulties that will be faced in the coming months/years in overturning Islamic State’s presence therein.
“Furthermore, the expansion of Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate beyond Iraq and Syria means that the group’s campaign will not end even if every square inch of territory is recaptured in Iraq and Syria and every Islamic State militant there is killed,” he added.
Islamic State cannot be stopped by force alone, argued Henman.