Only 3 Steps Needed to Deal Fatal Blow to Disorganized ISIS after Palmyra: Iraqi Official

Only 3 Steps Needed to Deal Fatal Blow to Disorganized ISIS after Palmyra: Iraqi Official
Sun Apr 3, 2016 13:26:01

ISIS is retreating after losing the strategically important Syrian city of Palmyra, Iraqi politician Adnan al-Saraj told Sputnik, adding that the next steps in the multinational counterterrorism efforts involve liberating Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa in Syria, as well as Mosul in Iraq.

Al-Saraj, a member of the State of Law Coalition and the head of the Iraqi Center for Media Development, described Palmyra's liberation as "disappointing" for ISIS.

On March 27, the Syrian Arab Army announced that the ancient city world-famous for its magnificent ruins was free after a month-long offensive against the terrorist group. The victory has been largely seen as a major blow to the militants.

The Syrian Arab Army, assisted by Russian warplanes and its local allies, could now focus on freeing the city of Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa, the Iraqi politician observed. These victories will help to secure the Syrian-Iraqi border, as well as provide a significant boost to the morale of the Iraqi security forces.

The victory in Raqqa will also "give an opportunity to cut supplies from ISIS and make the areas which lead from Syria to Mosul safe, and other northern areas like Saladin and Anbar," al-Saraj explained.

The Iraqi security forces had their Palmyra moment in December 2015 when they liberated Ramadi, the capital of the Anbar province. An operation to free another major urban center in Anbar is currently underway. On Saturday, Baghdad-led forces and their allies rescued approximately 1,500 civilians from an underground ISIS prison in the city of Hit, alternatively spelled as Heet.

In recent months, both Damascus and Baghdad have been able to turn the tide of war against ISIS thanks in no small measure to outside support. In Syria, Russia's limited military engagement has been instrumental in helping the SAA score victories.

In March, the IHS Conflict Monitor released an analysis saying that the self-proclaimed caliphate had shrunk by 22 percent in the last 15 months. Al-Saraj confirmed that the Iraqi security forces have freed four provinces and area advancing towards Mosul, the key ISIS stronghold in the country.

"It is clear that ISIS started retreating and withdrawing in a disorganized way. It lost a lot and is incapable of regaining anything in Iraq. The cities that have been freed witness development and vitality now," Al-Saraj asserted.

Mosul and Raqqa are the two major ISIS strongholds. Should the group lose them, its reign of terror in Iraq and Syria could well be over, Sputnik reported.


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