The Guardian reports: For the first time in the two years since the leader of Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, proclaimed the existence of an “Islamic caliphate” straddling Syria and Iraq, the jihadi group is at real risk of losing much of the territory it holds.
Four Isis strongholds – two in Syria and two in Iraq – are now under concerted attack, and in all cases the militants defending them are struggling to contain well-organised and resourced assaults planned over many months.
The attacks are heavily backed by the US, which since April has stepped up its campaign to “destroy and degrade” the terrorist organisation in its self-declared heartland of eastern Syria and western Iraq. A two-year project that had been derided by allies and proxies alike as being too limited and cautious now has military momentum. [Continue reading…]