As the what is termed as the last battle against ISIS begins in Idlib province in Syria the assumption that the Daesh has been defeated could not be further from the truth. Bordered by Turkey in the north, the Assad regime in the south, and the U.S.-supported Kurds in the northeast, Idlib province, whose airspace is controlled by the Russians, is the last rebel-held and contested area in Syria.
An estimated 100,000 or more rebels, including a majority of Salafi-jihadis, have entrenched their military presence in Idlib which makes the battle more crucial in liberating the area off extremists despite their alignment. The Salafi Jihadi groups present in Idlib including ISIS and Al Qaeda are seemingly presenting a united message of incitement to all Muslims to conduct attacks against the Wes and especially America. The groups are not only preparing to defend their terror haven but also to foster wide-scale terror attacks on the West.
The terror groups have bee concerting propaganda that is outwardly similar with their individual propaganda media publishing works that are geared and inspiring attacks in the West using unconventional weapons and methods. The messages are echoed by a book titled Jihad Without Borders—Attacks in the West from an Islamic Perspective published by al Qaeda and “Glad Tidings to the Steadfast” on the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha message by ISIS’ leader Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi.
ISIS has come out to inspire Muslims and ‘believers’ across the globe to conducted to focus on military, law enforcement, political and economic targets, especially on the West and allies. Early in August, ISIS released a video calling for lone wolf biological attacks on the West and offering course instructions on how to spread the most serious plague.
The aforementioned factors based on propaganda by the group purported to be defeated is a clear indication that ISIS has not been defeated but rather morphed into a transnational configuration with outfits across the globe, both organized and lone. Also, it is quite evident that although ISIS and groups like al Qaeda do not get along, they are willing to unite to protect Idlib which is their current terror haven in Syria and arguably the Middle East. Hence, while the US, Iran, Turkey, and Russia control different counterterrorism aspects and territories in Syria, they ought to unite and stabilize Idlib to make sure that the terror organizations do not reunite to wreak more havoc.