When US-backed Iraqi security forces and Iranian Shia militias cleared’ ISIS’s final Iraqi stronghold in Hawijah, they met with weak resistance and a massive surrender from a once-fearsome army.
In 2016 and 2015, ISIS carried out suicide attacks around the globe at a historic rate.
The terror group, founded in June 2014, demands that its militants fight or die, and often sends young men and even children on suicide bombing missions.
But as the group weakens on the ground, it seems its adherents have lost some backbone.
A US Department of Defence release on the battle for Hawijah cites “many sources reporting more than 1,000 terrorists surrendered.”
Unlike the battle for Mosul, ISIS’s former Iraqi capital, the terror group “put up no fight at all, other than planting bombs and booby traps,” Kurdish officials told the New York Times.
Strikingly, the same officials reported that ISIS commanders have ordered their fighters to turn themselves in, on the grounds that the Kurds will take prisoners, while other opponents would be harsher.
After three years of the most hardline imaginable Islamic rule over wide swaths of Iraq, the Iraqi Security Forces fighting ISIS have admitted engaging in acts of savagery against defeated ISIS fighters.
In July, Iraqi officers said they took part in extrajudicial killings of many unarmed ISIS fighters, with one vowing a “slow death” as revenge for killing his father.
During the fight for Mosul, some ISIS militants informed on their own ranks to the Iraqi forces, leading to the group’s humiliating defeat in the city.
With ISIS suffering defeat after defeat on the ground, the group has upped the aggression of its media operation in an attempt to save face. Recently the group released audio it claimed came from its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has been repeatedly rumoured killed or injured by airstrikes.
In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in recent US history, ISIS also made the dubious claim that Stephen Paddock, the gunman, was one of its followers.
US officials have shot this claim down, and ISIS’s claims do not match evidence which has since emerged on Paddock’s preparation for the attack.
In its early months and years, ISIS enjoyed a surge of battlefield victories. They had political support in Sunni Muslim areas, where many felt disenfranchised by Iraq’s Shia-run government.
But since then it has been pounded for years with airstrikes by a US-led coalition, and a wide range of militias and national armies on the ground.
With the fall of Hawijah, only a small strip of territory along Syria’s border remains in ISIS’s control.
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