This is an updated and extended article of the one published by Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM), October 10, 2017. The US-led coalition and Russia, Iran and its proxies have systematically decimated the ranks of ISIS's local and foreign fighters, during the battles for the liberation of ISIS strongholds of Mosul, Raqqa and other minor cities in Syria and Iraq.
Since the fall of Mosul last summer, the strategic Iraqi city of Tal-Afar and the al-Ayadiya district has been liberated by Iraq's Rapid Response Forces, claiming the lives of more than 3,000 ISIS members. The strategy of suicide bombings has also killed over a thousand ISIS fighters with the organisation boasting of 1,112 such operations in 2016 alone. Moreover, in late August, Igor Korobov, head of intelligence in the Russian Army, said that according to Russian estimates there were no more than 9,000 ISIS operatives in Syria, concentrated mainly in central Syria and in the eastern regions of Iraq with Sergei Sorovkin, commander of the Russian forces in Syria, saying that over the last three months the terrorist organisations have lost over 8,000 men.
Ahead of the operation to retake Raqqa, US Defence Secretary James Mattis announced that Washington was beginning to use “annihilation tactics” instead of attrition to defeat ISIS, saying: “Our intention is that the foreign fighters do not survive the fight to return home to North Africa, to Europe, to America, to Asia, to Africa. We are not going to allow them to do so.”
With the looming defeat of the ISIS, and with many of the surviving fighters unable to return to their homes, the question arises as to where the remaining ISIS fighters will scatter as they look for safe havens and attempt to rebuild a territorial stronghold.
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