Saturday, February 06, 2016

Islamic State is no longer so formidable on the battlefield

By Hugh Naylor February 6 at 3:24 PM WashPost

BEIRUT — The Islamic State’s recent defeats on the battlefield signal that its once-vaunted militia army has been hobbled by worsening money problems, desertions and a dwindling pool of fighters, analysts and monitoring groups say.

U.S.-backed Kurdish and Arab forces have seized significant amounts of territory from the extremist group in the parts of Iraq and Syria where it declared a caliphate in 2014. Those losses are linked to the group’s struggles to pay fighters and recruit new ones to replace those who have deserted, defected to other militant groups or died on the battlefield, the analysts say.

“These issues suggest that as an entity that is determined to hold onto territory, the Islamic State is not sustainable,” said Jacob Shapiro, an expert on the Islamic State who teaches politics at Princeton University.

Only a year ago, the Islamic State was seen as a juggernaut — rich, organized and fielding thousands of motivated fighters — that overran rival forces in Iraq and Syria with astonishing speed and brutality.

But in recent months, its momentum has been reversed.

(More here.)

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