At Baghuz, nearly 500 Islamic State’s fighters are under fire of the Arab-Kurdish coalition. Since Saturday, the assault has been launched against the last confined Jihadists in a “final battle”.
Islamic State’s territory should be liquidated in a few days. The Arab-Kurdish coalition of the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) supported by the Westerners launched the final offensive against the last Isis forces, grouped in the Baghuz village, at the Syrian-Kurdish border. The US president, Donald Trump, predicted on Wednesday that Isis will have lost all of its territory by next week. And the SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali declared “The decisive battle began tonight to finish what remains of Daesh terrorists”. But he did not say how long they expect the battle to last.
Islamic State territory now accounts for less than 1% of the caliphate, self-proclaimed in 2014. U.S. officials have said in recent weeks that Isis has lost 99.5% of its territory. The last 500 jihadist fighters are localized in a very small village of about 4 squares kilometers. The fighting was intense this weekend, with American air support. Some 37 000 people have fled the area since December, mainly from Isis families, but also about 3 400 jihadists who have surrendered.
The terrorist threat persists
Even if the Isis organization used to plan attacks from its Syrian base, the Islamic State liquidation is not the end of the terrorist threat. Indeed, in Western, Africa or Asia, the organization retains an ideological mobilization capacity. It is estimated it has relays and sleeping cells in about thirty countries. The US military has warned the group could stage a comeback if the military and counter terrorism pressure on it is eased.
The SDF require Western countries to recover their nationals, which is controversial for some people, who fear that they will be quickly released. Nearly 150 prisoners should be brought back soon by plane, in a combined Franco-American operation.
Lucas Bennoui, IEJ2C
3 pm local time, New York. It’s a quiet afternoon in the Manhattan district, for the few strollers strolling near the Hudson River before the terrible attack which hit the United States on October 31. An Uzbek aged 29, in connection with the ISIS would be at the origin of this attack, killing 8 people and injuring 12. The protagonist, driving a pick-up truck hit several cyclists and violently hit them. When he ended his run by hitting a school bus, he ran away yelling “Allah Akbar”. He was carrying two handguns and was finally neutralized by the police, putting an end to this bloody race. Having never been investigated by the Federal Police, the author of this drama was employed by Uber. He apparently premeditated his attack a few weeks before. According to several American media, he had been living on the territory for about ten years with his wife and children. At the scene of the attack, the police discovered a letter in which he praised the ISIS. Among the victims were five Argentinian tourists and a Belgian woman. Two Americans also lost their lives in this tragedy. President Donald Trump has called for stronger control of foreigners, and has demanded the abolition of the green card lottery allowing a foreigner to work in the United States, which the jihadists could benefit from.
Solène Vigouroux, 3E1
Sunday, Iraqi elite forces entered Mosul to take back the city. This is the last big city in Iraq where the jihadists have still been holding the control. This operation seems to be more important than before since we assume that the jihadists’s chief, Abu Bakr El-Baghdadi is in the city.
Indeed, the chief of the Kurdistan Region Presidency (KRP), Fuad Hussein revealed to the daily British newspaper, The Independent that “Abu Bakr El-Baghdadi is here at Mosul, and if he is killed, this will mean the overthrow of all the system of ISIS.” Abu Bakr El-Baghdadi was not seen for 8 to 9 months. For Fuad Hussein, the jihadists’s chief is still hiding in the city.
He also told the Independent that “his surviving adherents (would) fight to the death to defend him.” For him, if Abu Bakr El-Baghdadi is killed, it will change a lot for the ISIS. The latter will have to turn all its hierarchy. It will be very complicated and destabilizing for the ISIS to find another leader during the war. Moreover, Abu Bakr El-Baghdadi represents the conquest of Mosul in 2014.
Today, the number of islamist fighters still present in the city is estimated between 3,000 and 5,000.
Mégane Coulon, IEJ3F2
UNO affirms that a lot of civilians have been killed by Daech. Approximately 232 persons were shot around Mosul. A lot of other civilians were taken hostage. Eight thousand people are also retained in order to be used as human shields.
We also know that a lot of Iraqi officers were executed. The reason of this huge amount of people killed ? They refused to obey to Islamic State orders. Ravina Shamdasani, the spokesperson of the “High Committee for Human Rights” say that the number of people killed is maybe more important. There were a lot of Iraki army officers showed, but we can make suppositions about the number of civilians who are under the terror of ISIS.
The attack of Mossoul has started on October 17th, lead by the Americans and the coalition. They plan to attack Mosul by the air, using bombs. That’s why ISIS wants to use population, because they suppose the Coalition won’t attack if civilians are under military airplanes. Today, for all people who are involved in GNO’S, the principal worry are the civilians and how to rescue them. A camp for refugees of 1 million places has already been constructed. But, today we are really worried for all those who are engaged in this conflict while they are not rebels or army members.
Léo Leblond, IEJ3E
US officials have claimed victory after possibly killing the British executioner Mohammed Emwazi, also known as “Jihadi John”, during a airstrike in Syria.
The Pentagon has not officially confirmed his death but some military sources said it is certain at “99 per cent”.
On Thursday night, US army conducted an airstrike in the very heart of the Islamic State’s Syrian capital, Raqqa. One of the main objectives of this strike was to reach the British terrorist. “If this strike was successful – and we still await confirmation of that – it will be a strike at the heart of ISIS,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said.
As a reminder, Mohammed Emwazi is known for beheading several people in front of a camera, like American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, or British humanitarian workers David Haines and Alan Henning. Every time, he was wearing long black clothes, his face hidden, with a knife in his hand. Since these events, Mr Emwazi was at the top of the UK government’s “kill list”.
Most of the victims’ families claimed for Emwazi to be captured alive, saying, for instance, he didn’t deserve an “honourable” death, as Mr Haines’ widow stated. Unfortunately, it seems US army decided not to take any risk trying to catch “Jihadi John”.
Maxime Dubois, IEJ3E Group 2
Gunfire celebrations, Kurdish flags on buildings, this is how anti-Isis forces celebrated the retake of a Yazidi town on the road of Raqqa, Isis head-quarter. Sinzar, an Iraqi town held by ISIS for 15 months, has been liberated on November 13th by thousands of Peshmergas fighters helped by Yazidis fighters.
On October 2014, the Islamic State took Sinzar and killed Yazidis men, then enslaved and raped their women. On Friday, Kurdish peshmergas forces entered the devastated city from the east side then linked with YPG, Kurdish forces from Syria who invaded the town from the west part of Sinzar.
Started on Wednesday 11th, supported by American Air Forces, this operation had been set to control the road between Raqqa, Isis headquarters in Syria and Mosul, major powerful city held by the Islamic State in Iraq.
An armed force composed of Yazidis people also took part in the fight.
For a few weeks, it appears that Isis is losing its influence in Syria and Iraq. On Monday, French Air Force bombed an oilfield held by ISIS. Facing those losses, it appears that the Islamic state already changed its strategy, committing blind attacks, like in Beyrouth on Thursday, which killed 42 people. “For the last 15 months that I have been fighting Daesh, I have never seen them so weak, they were literally running away,” said Kurdish Forces Colonel, Kamran Hawrami.
Guillaume Dussourt, 3E2
A bomb was probably placed onboard the Metrojet flight from Sharm el-Sheikh to Saint Petersburg on the 31rst of October, according to Washington and London.
The bomb was probably placed on the plane by a person working for the airplane company or the Egyptian airport.
This new theory on the crash is set to change diplomatic relations between Egypt and other countries. Moreover, tourism, which has already been let down following the Arab spring will crumble in the Sinai region. London and Washington have suspended their flights to Sharm el-Sheikh and London has sent out planes to bring its citizens home. About 20,000 English tourists are currently waiting for the English transportation.
Russia and Egypt are waiting for the conclusions of the investigation, but still deny the possibility that a bomb could be the reason of the crash. The Egyptian President, Al Sissi has declared that the idea of an ISIS-led attack was part of “unfounded speculations”. The terrorist group has however published a video where they claim being the authors of the attack. The threats are directly aimed at Poutine for his aerial campain against ISIS in Syria.
The investigation will soon reveal how such a catastrophe was made possible.
Clotilde Bigot, IEJ 3E, group 1