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12/06/2021 Iraq (International Christian Concern) – The newest quarterly Pentagon report on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria noted that the terrorist group is “entrenched as low-level insurgency”. The Islamic State is notably weakened and has not regained any territory since its declared defeat in March 2019. However, the group contributes to the insecurity and instability in both Iraq and Syria.

The Pentagon report noted the significant and essential role of the United States and coalition partners in the success of the mission and the support for the Iraqi Security Forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The COVID-19 pandemic, regional drought, and Iranian influence also notably contribute to the two countries’ difficulty to battle the Islamic State independently.

In Iraq, the Islamic State has at times shown a “higher level of operational maturity”. However, the number of attacks are decreasing and the U.S. expects to transition to a training role at the end of 2021. In Syria, the Islamic State appears to be “consolidating in the desert and poised for increased activity”, while also focusing recruiting and indoctrination efforts at al-Hol IDP camp. The SDF appears to “lack the ability to conduct persistent surveillance or maintain situational awareness”, requiring a continued US presence.

Both Iraq and Syria, plagued by the Islamic State for years, face outside threats to the stability of their countries from Iran and Turkey, both vying for a role in the rebuilding of the nations. With the Islamic State still present, albeit weakened, Christians and regional minorities continue to fear for their futures without adequate security or incentives to remain in their home countries.

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