Has ISIS really been defeated? The answer… isn’t that simple.
Today, ISIS has lost all but one percent of the territory that it once controlled. Which is why you’ve probably heard President Trump repeatedly claim ISIS has been defeated.
BUT, some people, like New York Times correspondent Rukmini Callimachi, point out that while ISIS no longer has control over a state-like entity, we shouldn’t equate that with the group’s defeat. ISIS now finds itself returning to its roots in guerrilla warfare -- focusing more heavily on targeted attacks and inspiring “lone-wolf” attacks like we’ve seen it do abroad -- and less on claiming territory.
Despite this, President Trump has called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. Another thing to keep a close eye on if the U.S. does withdraw from Syria, are the Kurdish-run prisons that have been indefinitely detaining ISIS fighters and sympathizers. It’s uncertain how much longer the Kurds would be able to continue running the prisons if the U.S. withdraws.
It’s an area of real concern, given ISIS’ previous targeting of prisons to release its detained. On top of that, the Pentagon recently released a report that said ISIS could make a comeback within only 6 months to a year of the U.S. pulling out of Syria -- if there isn’t quote “sustained counterterrorism pressure” against the group.