Signs of strain are showing in the much-hyped Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) following its defeat by Kurdish fighters in Kobani near the Syrian border.
In the so-called caliphate’s ostensible capital of Racqa, fighters are less in evidence and locals are being pressured to enlist to fight in Iraq, according to a report by Voice of America.
“They are using all the means they can to persuade people to join — from money offers to threats and prisoners are being press-ganged,” said Abu Mohammed, with the opposition group called Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently.
Strains began showing with ISIL forces after the siege of Kobani ended in defeat, he told reporter Jamie Dettmer. “They lost a lot of fighters there and it clearly hit their morale as well.”
ISIL was forced to send children called “cubs of the caliphate” to the front as the Kurdish forces held strong with assistance from U.S.-led coalition air strikes which took a high death toll, he said.
Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of U.S. Central Command, told Congress in March that the campaign had killed as many as 8,500 fighters. Rami Abdurrahman at the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, estimated that ISIL had lost more than a thousand fighters at Kobani.
Recent ISIL statements attributed to its top leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (rumored to be incapacitated) have betrayed urgency or desperation.
The statements called for the enlisting of “religiously dedicated, patient ones, and war experts who don’t look back, fight and don’t lay down their weapons until they get killed or God grants them victory.”
Daniel Milton and Muhammad al-Ubaydi at the Combating Terrorism Center at the United States Military Academy at West Point noted that the statement urged “those who wanted to volunteer to report within 48 hours. The short temporal expiration date on this order suggests a certain urgency in the request. Given the time it will take to organize and deploy fighters, this suggests that IS[IL] sees the next several weeks in both Al-Anbar and Salah ad Din (provinces) as critical.”
source : worldtribune.com