US troops in Iraq have been targeted three times in mortars and katyusha rocket strikes since last weekend. Shia militias that are supported by Iran are suspected of carrying out the attacks, which take place as tensions between the US and Iran increase.
The defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria was neither final nor decisive, and policymakers should heed the War on Terror’s lessons to ensure the West doesn’t squander this advantage and enable ISIS, or its copycats and successor groups, to rally.
The second-in-command of the IRGC-controlled, Iraqi Harakat al Nujaba has threatened to attack US targets in the Middle East if the US strikes “Iraqi groups.”
The State Department announced today that it intends to designate the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization. The IRGC’s activities span the globe.
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 US Department of State added Harakat al Nujaba, an Iranian-supported Shiite militia which operates in both Iraq and Syria, and its leader, Akram ‘Abbas al Kaabi to the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists. Kaabi has pledged loyalty to Iran’s Supreme Leader and has said he would overthrow the Iraqi government if ordered to do so.
President Trump claimed earlier today that the Islamic State has been “defeated” in Syria. But an unknown number of the group’s top leaders, including presumably Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, remain alive. And there are likely thousands of fighters in both Syria and Iraq, where they operate as insurgents.
The US-led coalition announced today that Abu al Umarayn and “several” other Islamic State leaders were killed in recent airstrikes in Syria. Umarayn was purportedly involved in the 2014 murder of Peter Kassig, a former US Army Ranger who was working as a humanitarian worker in Syria.