Rebuilt Islamic State growing more brazen in Syria and Iraq
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- Islamic State ISIS is an Islamic extremist terrorist organization controlling territory in Iraq...[+]
Fighters and followers of the Islamic State, undaunted by the collapse of the terror group’s self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq, are growing bolder and more dangerous, according to recent assessments by U.S. counterterrorism officials.
The new appraisals attribute the change less to a leap in IS capabilities than to gradual progress due to long-term planning, which has masked the severity of the threat.
“ISIS has been working to rebuild its operational capacity,” a U.S. counterterrorism official told VOA, using another acronym for the terror group. “They’ve made incremental, localized improvements to their operating capacity in primarily eastern Syria over the course of several months.”
And the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said in many ways, that planning is starting to pay off.
“The group has been more assertive in pockets of Syria in recent weeks as these efforts have progressed, conducting more brazen attacks against Syrian security forces, including regime forces and Syrian Kurdish forces,” the official said.
In one such incident in April, officials said IS forces used a multipronged attack to overrun Syrian regime forces in al-Sukhna, in northern Homs province. IS fighters held parts of the town for more than a day, retreating only after Russian fighter jets launched a sustained counterattack.
“[The attack] signals ISIS’s increased willingness to assume the risk of an overt confrontation against a more capable adversary,” the U.S. official told VOA.
At the same time, counterterrorism officials say IS has ramped up its campaign of intimidation and coercion, exerting a greater degree of control over areas beyond the reach of Syrian government forces, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and the Iraqi government.
And, in areas where those forces are present, top officials have been targeted repeatedly for assassination.
Money, also, does not appear to be a problem for IS.
U.S. officials estimate the terror group still has access to anywhere from $50 million to $300 million in reserves while continuing to rake in profits from extortion, theft, illicit trade and taxes.
Source: VOA News