Friday, Daily Caller reported that Islamic leaders have retreated, abandoning their soldiers in their de factor capital in Raqqa. Some say they’ve been left to die, as forces backed by US soldiers close in on them within the Syrian city.
On Wednesday, an official with the Department of Defense told the New York Times that ISIS leaders intend to continue fighting within various other friendly areas in Syria and Iraq.
Just because ISIS currently lacks leadership in Raqqa, that doesn’t mean it will be easy to take the group down. There are an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 militants fighting for ISIS in the city.
An official who asked to remain anonymous told NY Times that ISIS still wants to keep fighting. Losing a significant portion of its Islamic State has not deterred them in the least.
Approximately 15,000 ISIS fighters remain in both Iraq and Syria, though the hope for any reinforcement is unlikely, as the group’s supply of volunteers has been effectively cut off. At its peak, hundreds of radicals were flowing into the caliphate each month, now that number has dwindled to less than 100.
ISIS leaders seem to have a trend of retreating and leaving their men behind. ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is believed to have fled Mosul just before an assault by Operation Inherent Resolve, leaving behind some of his most loyal followers to die.
Baghdadi has become increasingly scared for his safety in recent months, according to various reports. The ISIS leader has minimized his communication and frequently changes his location, sometime multiple times in one day.
Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-backed international anti-ISIS mission, is currently on the verge of retaking both Raqqa and Mosul. Iraqi forces retook eastern Mosul in January, and are currently fighting to take the western side of the city. Meanwhile, Syrian militia forces have effectively surrounded Raqqa. A contingent of U.S. Marines arrived in Syria this week in an effort to provide fire support for the assault.