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Remaining and Expanding: The Recovery of Islamic State Operations in Iraq in 2019-2020

Michael Knights

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CTC Sentinel

May 2020


Two security experts comb incident data from the past year to explain how the group is resurging and what factors are most likely to accelerate this troubling trend.

The Islamic State has recovered from its territorial defeats since 2017 to mount a strong and sustained resurgence as an insurgent force inside Iraq. A new analysis of attack metrics from the past 18 months paints a picture of an insurgency that has regained its balance, spread out across many more areas, and reclaimed significant tactical proficiency. Now operating at the same levels it achieved in 2012, the Islamic State could further ramp up its rural insurgency in 2020 and 2021. An input of experienced cadres from Syria, a downturn in Iraqi and coalition effectiveness, and the disruption of a combined COVID and economic crisis will likely all feed into an escalating campaign of attrition against the Iraqi state, military, and tribes...

To read the full study, download the PDF above. This article was originally published on the CTC website.