Iraqi officials warn IS will become 'underground terrorist organisation'

Iraqi officials warn IS will become 'underground terrorist organisation'
As the Islamic State group loses ground in Iraq and Syria, it will reorganise itself into an underground terrorist group, Iraqi military officers have said.
3 min read
24 June, 2016
Iraq forces have already set their sights on Mosul, IS' capital in Iraq [Getty]

The Islamic State group [IS] is in the process of changing its tactics towards retaliatory terror attacks across Iraq as city after city slip from its grasp, Iraqi military officers have warned.

IS will remould itself into an underground paramilitary force with cells carrying out various attacks against civilian and military targets as it loses ground to government forces and allied militias, according to officials.

After months of defeats in Iraq and Syria for IS, Iraqi forces this week fought to flush out the last pockets of IS resistance in the militant group's former bastion of Fallujah – two years after a military juggernaut that saw IS sweep up territory and proclaim an Islamic caliphate.

"IS will not have the same ability to maintain control over cities as it could but it will go underground and carry out many various attacks without a main base or centre of operations," Colonel Ahmad Abdel Salam al-Dulaimi told The New Arab.

"A week ago, when we wanted to know where IS was we'd point to Fallujah. A month ago, we'd point to Fallujah and Rutba and a six months ago it would have been Fallujah, Rutba and Ramadi,"

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"Then we could pick and choose between IS positions to target. Where are we going to point to now? Our intelligence services are terrible and our forces are being attacked from every direction," he added.

A high-ranking Iraqi military officer echoed fears that IS will transform itself into a guerrilla movement.

"A recent intelligence report from the Ministry of Defence has said IS will shift from a physical presence on the ground to cells and pockets across the country, destabilising cities," said the officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

He added that the report stressed that Islamic State's ongoing wave of terrorist attacks will be the militant group's "strategy of choice from this day forward" and that it will not attempt to recapture the areas it has lost, rather opting to carry out "hit and run attacks".

US officials warned this week that the fight against IS could backfire despite the recent military gains.

The group's recent losses against a range of international forces – comprised mainly of Shia and Kurdish fighters – could give the group greater legitimacy in the eyes of Sunni Muslims, US intelligence officials believe.

Earlier this month, Iraqi tribes demanded that the alliance of Shia militias from the ongoing offensive in the Sunni-majority city of Fallujah be removed from the battle.

Iraq is plagued by a deep schism between its Sunni and Shiite populations – a 14th-century religious divide that has recently flared up and become rooted in the conflicts in the Middle East.

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