Has The Decline of ISIS Begun?

Abdalaziz Alhamza “RBSS”

In his last audio speech, Al-Adnani -ISIS spokesman- sounded like he was preparing his supporters for the next level, which seems to be a period of decline in cities and towns controlled by the terrorist group in Iraq, Syria and Libya.
Al-Adnani tried to mock and anticipate the battles announced or going to be announced later in the name of defeating ISIS in all the cities and towns controlled by the group, especially when he said: (Losses and defeats are not the loss of a city or a land !. We weren’t defeated when we lost cities in Iraq and moved to the dessert no city or town! Your armies didn’t scare us and all your military campaigns will not win and you will be defeated. We will not be defeated if you took Al-Mussel, Sirte, Raqqa or even all our cities. You will not win despite all the money and soldiers United States will lose in its war against us. )
Who traces the map of ongoing battles against ISIS in Syria, Iraq and Libya, will easily notice the link between the quitter – proactive speech and military situation on the ground. We can describe the military situation of the group as the worst since the summer of 2014.
In Libya, last month the Government of National Accord backed by the international community launched a battle against ISIS in order to regain Sirte.
Sirte city, with its waterfront and strategic location, was ISIS stronghold in Libya. The group presence on the opposite coast of Europe made a threat and an easy access to launch operations against European countries. But today and within few weeks ISIS lost all the strategic points in Sirte (airport and seaport) and became trapped in an area that doesn’t exceed 5 square kilometers in the residential neighborhoods.
But as usual, ISIS used its –well known- military tactics such as snipers, car bombs and staying inside residential neighborhoods to avoid artillery shells and warplanes’ raids. But these tactics are only attempts and maneuvers used to delay lose and they are followed usually by withdrawals issued by the group’s leaders.
In the other side, Iraqi Army and Shiite militias began in the twenty-third of May a military operation to regain Fallujah. This city has a strategic location; it is western the Iraqi capital Baghdad and about 60 kilometers far. The city is one of the most important strongholds of ISIS in Al-Anbar province. It has been four weeks since the battle started but it is not finished yet, intensive battles are taking place in the southern neighborhoods especially Shuhada neighborhood where they used civilian homes to uncover shooting sites. Same situation applies to Amiriyah Al-Fallujah and other important sites to control the nearby areas of the two bridges which link the two shores of the Euphrates.
These operations included sectarian abuses carried out by the Shiite militias, a lot of photos and videos in social networks confirm that, sectarian phrases were mentioned when launching missiles over the city, besides humiliation for Fallujah people and considering them as ISIS supporters.
The Iraqi government denied these accusations, but Iraqi president Fuad Masum, in an interview with BBC Arabic channel, confirmed these violations but he considered them as individual – disorganized actions. This was confirmed by Suhaib Al- Rawi, Al-Anbar governor, who reported executions for 49 Sunni men by the popular mobilization which is linked with Iran. Due to these violations against innocent civilians The United States threatened to stop providing military support to Iraqi forces if popular mobilization forces entered Fallujah.
All of that make it a lot more difficult to end the battle and regain Fallujah back from ISIS, and these violations confirm ISIS claims of being the savior of Sunni people from the Shiite militias.
In Syria, the situation is more complicated because of the variety of actors on ground. In this context, Raqqa battle was announced in the twenty fourth of May by Syrian Democratic Forces backed by US, who announced that it will provide logistic support for these forces. Hundreds of American soldiers arrived to Rmelan air base northeast AL-Hasakeh and General Joseph Votel visited the area, who is the highest US official to visit Syria since Syrian Revolution in 2011.
All of these preparations for Raqqa battle soon found to be only a part of the propaganda against ISIS, the battle moved suddenly towards Manbij which is one of the important areas for People’s Protection Units (YPG) -the military wing of PKK in Syria- the main party in Syrian Democratic Forces.
These Forces are trying to control the borders with Turkey, in order to link the three areas Aljazeera, Kobani and Afrin, so they preferred to start by this battle supported by US and the so-called (Manbij Military Council), ISIS now is trapped in the city after blocking all the routes that leads to Manbij. Of course, civilians are paying the heavy price. United Nations estimated that 100 thousand civilians are trapped in the city because the attacking troops didn’t make any safe routes for them to escape.
Of course, Assad regime did not miss the chance to prove its existence in the (War on Terror), Regime troops advanced towards Tabqa City and reached Safian oil field which is 15 kilometers from Tabqa Military Airport and 45 Kilometers from Raqqa City. Despite the announcement of coordination between Russians and Americans (which support Syrian Regime and Syrian Democratic Forces respectively) in fighting terrorism and Raqqa battle, things seem to be more complicated and various parties are racing to regain Raqqa and achieve their own strategic goals.
This view explains and confirms what has been said above about ISIS’s preparations for the upcoming losses, and this is exactly what AL-Adnani said in his last audio speech.
However, the rumors that talk about the elimination of ISIS at once is not accurate. Despite all the pressure unprecedented on the group, ISIS continue to launch terrorist operations outside its borders such as: assassination of media activist (Ahmed Abdulqader) the editor of Ein Ala Al- Watan newspaper in Urfa City south-eastern Turkey, Orlando shooting attack and the attack on the deputy head of the French Police in Lombron and his wife.
All of that is in an attempt to cover the military setbacks and retreats and to show the world that ISIS is still able to hit its opponents in any time or place.

media activist from the city of Raqqa, student at the Faculty of Law at the University of the Euphrates. Director of the Media Office of Raqqa, founding member of "Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently", founding member of the documentary project of "Sound and Picture". I work in documenting violations committed by Assad's regime and ISIS group and extremist organizations inside the city of Raqqa, as I work in programming, design and visual media. I hold a certificate of coach in digital security, and a certificate of journalist coach, and a certificate in documenting violations against human rights, and a certificate in electronic advocacy. I underwent a training under the supervision of "Cyber-Arabs" in collaboration with the Institute for War and Peace "IWPR", about the management of electronic websites and leadership of advocacy campaigns, and a training of press photography under the supervision of the photojournalist "Peter Hove Olesen".