A year after it was routed from Iraq in a devastating war that left entire neighborhoods and towns in ruins, the Islamic State group is fighting to hang on to its last enclave in eastern Syria, engaging in deadly battles with U.S.-backed forces.

The battle for Hajin has dragged on for three months, highlighting the difficulty of eradicating an extremist group determined to survive. In Iraq, there is rising concern that the group may stage a comeback. ISIS sleeper cells have recently launched deadly attacks against security forces and kidnapped and killed civilians, mostly in four northern and central provinces that were once part of the group’s self-declared caliphate.

“There is still major danger for Iraq and Syria especially in areas close to the border when it comes to Daesh,” a senior Iraqi intelligence official said, using an Arabic acronym to refer to the extremists.

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