The terror group has lost its land, but not its ability to wage a war of terror and intimidation, and the Iraqi government’s corruption is helping it recruit.
Florian Neuhof is a journalist covering the war in Iraq and Syria from Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. Previously he was based in London, the UAE and Cyprus.
The Islamic State once seemed inexorable in its violence and terror. Now, it's on the back foot in Syria and Iraq—but celebrating its demise is premature.
Eventually the stench of death was too much even for ISIS. They covered it, mined it. The Iraqi government won’t touch it. The families of the disappeared have no place to turn.
The U.S. has armed and trained the Kurdish Peshmerga and the Iraqi government troops who are now pitted against each other. What side is the Trump administration on? Does it know?
The city is being destroyed in order to save it from a group affiliated with the so-called Islamic State. The U.S. advisers reported there in June are nowhere to be seen.
With nothing left to lose, ISIS men—and women—hide among fleeing civilians and blow themselves up to kill U.S.-backed Iraqi special forces.
Allowing the defenders to flee will likely make it easier to take the city. But it will also flush ISIS fighters into the Syrian hinterland, and bolster their ranks elsewhere.
The plight of the Yazidis brought the United States back into the Iraq War when Obama moved to save them on Mount Sinjar. But three years on, they've got little hope of going home.
And estimated 400,000 civilians remain, and the fight for the Old City, through narrow streets and alleys, is just beginning.
Coalition airstrikes may have killed scores of civilians during grim urban combat, but collateral damage is not the whole story. Collateral compassion is in evidence, too.