ISIS morale falls as momentum slows and casualties mount

The Financial Times reports: An activist opposed to both the Syrian regime and Isis, and well known to the Financial Times, said he had verified 100 executions of foreign Isis fighters trying to flee the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, Isis’s de facto capital. Like most people interviewed or described in this article, he asked for his name to be withheld for security reasons.

“After the fall of Mosul in June, Isis was presenting itself as unstoppable and it was selling a sense of adventure,” a US official said. He added that the dynamics have changed since the US launched air strikes in August and helped break the momentum of the Isis advance, which has helped stem the flow of foreign recruits — though he warned that the change of mood “doesn’t affect the hardcore people of Isis”.

Analyst Torbjorn Soltvedt, of Verisk Maplecroft, a UK-based risk analysis group, said morale may be taking a hit as militants grapple with the shift from mobile army to governing force.

“Before they were seizing territory, forcing armies in Iraq and Syria to retreat,” he said. “Now they’re basically an occupying force trying to govern.”

After flocking to Syria and Iraq during Isis’s heady days of quick victories, some foreigners may also be questioning the long, gruelling fight ahead.

Mr Solvedt said his organisation has had many reports of foreign fighters, including Britons, contacting family members and state authorities seeking ways to return home.

Isis members in Raqqa said the organisation has created a military police to crack down on fighters who fail to report for duty. According to activists, dozens of fighters’ homes have been raided and many have been arrested. [Continue reading…]

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