Zack Beauchamp reports: Scattered reports from inside ISIS-controlled territory have painted an awful picture of life under the militant group’s rule. But a brand-new UN report, compiled from interviews with 300 people who have lived or currently are living in ISIS-controlled Syria, gives us a systematic look at the militant group’s reign.
And it is horrifying.
This isn’t just because the behavior documented is terrible, though it is. It’s that the UN report documents a strategy, not just random brutality or religious fanaticism. ISIS’s ultraviolence is designed to cement its rule by terrifying the population into submission. And it might be working.
Consider this testimony from an anonymous father living in Deir ez Zor, in the eastern part of the country. Walking with his son, he saw two men strung up on a cross. “Both victims’ hands were tied to each side of the improvised cross,” the man reports. “I went to read the placards. On the first one it read, ‘This is the fate of those who fight against us.'”
He somehow had to explain this to his child. “I realized that my 7-year-old son was next to me, still holding my hand and watching this horrifying scene. He later asked me, ‘Why were they there? Why was their blood on the heads and bodies?’ I had to lie to him and say they were waiting for ambulances to come and rescue them.” [Continue reading…]
The Guardian adds: The size and breadth of the Isis arsenal provides the group with durable mobility, range and a limited defense against low-flying aircraft. Even if the US-led bombing campaign continues to destroy the group’s vehicles and heavier weapons, the UN report states, it “cannot mitigate the effect of the significant volume of light weapons” Isis possesses.
Those weapons “are sufficient to allow [Isis] to continue fighting at current levels for six months to two years”, the UN report finds, making Isis not only the world’s best-funded terrorist group but among its best armed.
Isis, along with its former rival turned occasional tactical ally the Nusra Front, are sufficiently armed to threaten the region “even without territory”, the report concludes. [Continue reading…]