Reports of atrocities committed by ISIL continue. In Raqqa, ISIL beheaded four teenage boys and young men supposedly for providing information to the anti-ISIL coalition. In Mosul, ISIL terrorists reportedly set a house on fire and burned a 12-year old Christian girl to death because her mother did not pay the required jizya tax quickly enough. These events demonstrate once again that ISIL, as Secretary of State John Kerry said, has “built a bureaucracy out of brutality.”
But recent news from Iraq and Syria is not good for ISIL. The anti-ISIL Coalition is squeezing the terrorist group, gaining back territory, damaging its financial network, and killing its leaders.
Just this month the Coalition struck and killed two high-value terrorists. The first was Abu Hamza, known to be a motivational leader responsible for coordinating ISIL fighters and finances in the Euphrates River Valley. The second was Hamza’s associate Abu Sufiyah, who was in involved in chemical attacks in the same area.
On the ground in Iraq, ISIL recently suffered a blow when Iraqi forces entered the strategic town of Rutbah and substantially cleared it of terrorists. Although a small town, Rutbah is of outsized significance because, as Colonel Steven Warren, Spokesman for the anti-ISIL Coalition, explained, Rutbah lies on the main route between Baghdad and Jordan, and opening it will impact the economies of Jordan and Iraq and will deny ISIL a critical support zone.
Colonel Warren also noted that over the past week in Syria, opposition forces conducted several operations and seized five villages. And the Syrian Democratic Forces’ training camp in northern Syria is graduating another group of 200 Arab fighters who will join the Syrian Arab Coalition.
So far in Syria, Colonel Warren said, ISIL has lost 20 percent of the territory it once held; in Iraq, 45 percent. And the Coalition continues to hit ISIL’s economic lifeline –- its oil production, cash centers, and illicit banking hubs.
The fight against ISIL remains difficult, and the populations of Raqqa and Mosul and other towns in Syria and Iraq still suffer cruelly under ISIL’s hand. The terrible wave of recent bombings in Baghdad perpetrated by ISIL continue to show its depravity, killing scores of ordinary citizens, including women and children.
But despite ISIL’s brutality and blood lust, it is under significant pressure and losing ground every day. The 66-member Coalition, drawn from every corner of the globe, is determined to turn ISIL’s losses into defeat.