The US-backed Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) announced today that Baghouz has been liberated from the Islamic State. The US considers Baghouz to be the last village that was part of the jihadists’ physical caliphate. However, a review of history and current operations shows that the Islamic State has not been entirely defeated.
The jihadist conglomerate, as suspected, claimed Sunday’s deadly siege on a military base in central Mali.
In a speech released earlier this week, Islamic State spokesman Abul-Hasan al-Muhajir claimed that the group remains a “reality” despite its territorial losses. He also references the terrorist attack by a white supremacist in New Zealand earlier this week.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the Trump administration’s top envoy for talks with the Taliban, claims that he is already satisfied with the Taliban’s counterterrorism assurances. But the Taliban’s close relationship with al Qaeda stretches from the 1990s until today. The Taliban should be required to publicly renounce al Qaeda in any final deal with the US. Even then, the break would need to be verified.
The head of the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), Abdul Haq al-Turkistani, has called on jihadist “scholars” to do more to address the plight of Uighurs. Al-Turkistani addresses his message to Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhunzada, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and a number of al Qaeda ideologues.
While no group has yet to officially claim the assault, al Qaeda’s Group for Support of Islam and Muslims is widely suspected.
The Taliban blocked off all roads leading into Bala Murghab district, overran 11 security outposts and put an Afghan National Army company stationed there to rout. They also killed 44 Afghan security personnel and captured another 190, and advanced to within one kilometer of the district center.
The Guardians of Religion organization has praised recent operations conducted by the Taliban and Shabaab.