ISIS
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, alternatively translated as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, is a Salafi jihadist militant group that follows an Islamic fundamentalist, Wahhabi doctrine of Sunni Islam. The group is also known as Daesh, which is an acronym derived from its Arabic name. Founder: : Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, 1999. ISIS proclaimed a worldwide caliphate in June 2014[36][37] and named Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as its caliph. As of December 2015, the group has control over vast landlocked territory in Iraq and Syria, with a population estimate ranging between 2.8 million[41] and 8 million people[42] and where it enforces its interpretation of sharia law. ISIL affiliates control small areas of Libya, Nigeria and Afghanistan and operate in other parts of the world, including North Africa and South Asia.

U.S.-Backed Forces Push to Capture Islamic State’s Last Territory in Syria

2/14/19
from The Wall Street Journal,
2/11/19:

Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces says 41 positions held by extremist group have been taken, vastly reducing self-declared caliphate’s position

U.S.-backed forces aided by coalition airstrikes have captured more than three dozen positions and destroyed fortifications as they moved to retake the last territory under Islamic State control. “Heavy fighting is going on inside the last village at the moment,” Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, said on Sunday on Twitter. The SDF has taken 41 Islamic State positions as it advanced, he said, while foiling a counterattack earlier in the day. The push to take the village of Baghouz in eastern Syria started over the weekend after more than 20,000 civilians were evacuated from the area over the past 10 days, the SDF said. The civilians fled the shrinking Islamic State pocket, many of them on foot, and were then transferred by the SDF to nearby camps. The dayslong pause in fighting allowed the SDF, which includes local Arabs, to reposition and refit their fighters. While the ground forces are mostly equipped with light weapons, they are backed by airstrikes carried out by the U.S.-led coalition. The SDF didn’t say how long it would take to seize the village, but President Trump had said the task is expected to be accomplished this week.

“It is too early to speculate a specific date as remnants of the enemy still have military and financial capabilities,” said coalition spokesman Col. Sean Ryan. “People are still being persecuted out there by ISIS, so the mission remains the enduring defeat of ISIS,” he added, referring to the group by an acronym. Following a nearly five-year campaign to eliminate the extremist group from its self-proclaimed caliphate, Islamic State controls less than 1% of what it once claimed across large parts of Syria and Iraq. However, the battle to capture the last vestiges of the once-vast Islamic State territory has taken longer than many anticipated when the SDF launched the offensive more than nine months ago. In comparison, it took four months to oust Islamic State from its de facto capital of Raqqa and nine months to do the same in the Iraqi city of Mosul.

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