ISIL back to being the JV team?

LA Times:
The Pentagon and U.S. intelligence agencies now view Islamic State as a shrinking and increasingly demoralized military force, a sharp shift from the seemingly invincible extremist army that declared an Islamist caliphate two years ago.

The revised assessment comes after surprisingly swift and relatively bloodless victories this summer near Syria’s border with Turkey and in the Sunni heartland of Iraq, two areas where Islamic State had appeared entrenched.

The rapid recapture this week of Jarabulus, the militants’ last garrison by the Turkish border, helped close off a boundary region that was crucial for movement of recruits, supplies and money in and out of the group’s quasi-state.

It also was the latest fight to suggest the Sunni militants no longer are willing to fight to hold territory against a sustained assault. Only one fighter was reported killed in the assault led by Turkish tanks. Several hundred others apparently fled.

Partly as a result, U.S. officials have hinted that the long-delayed assault on Mosul, Islamic State’s self-declared capital in Iraq, may be launched this fall. The city of 1 million has been increasingly cut off by advancing Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces.

Michael Knights, Iraq fellow at the nonpartisan Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said taking back Mosul. along with the Syrian towns of Deir ez Zour and Raqqah, will mark the end of the caliphate.

“After the fall of those cities, [Islamic State] will be just another terror group,” he said. “They might be able to throw a couple car bombs in city centers and mount small arms attacks, but they will no longer engage in heavy fighting on a daily basis. In other words, we’ll be back to where we were in 2013.”
Does this come from the same people who called ISIL the JV team?  The likely result of the loss of the caliphate real estate will be to morph into another terrorist organization like al Qaeda that specializes in mass murder attacks against noncombatants.

If the US and it allies had used overwhelming force much earlier, it probably could have squashed this terrorist band before it metastasized.  By deciding to wage a war of attrition, it made the war longer and bloodier and allowed the movement to spread.


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