Islamic State resurgence in Syria – 6-month outlook.

Summary

Islamic State (IS) is on the cusp of a resurgence in Syria. According to a UN report released on the 9th of August 2022. The report was presented by the UN’s Counter-Terrorist chief Vladimir Voronkov. It highlighted that the border region between Iraq and Syria was still a stronghold for IS. It is the political instability, especially in Northern and Eastern Syria, that is allowing IS to regroup once again. And with it, the hope of a resurgence on the horizon.

Key Judgement 1 – It is highly likely that IS will continue with its low-level insurgency in Northern and Eastern Syria over the next 6 months.

  • Following the report by the UN on the 9th of August 2022, we have learnt that IS currently has 10,000 fighters still active in the Syria/Iraq border region (source)
  • From the 1st of August 2022 to the 9th of August 2022, IS has carried out a minimum of 9 attacks in Syria. It targeted mainly SDF soldiers as it looks to have a resurgence in Syria. (source)
  • Furthermore, IS targeted a PKK vehicle in Northern Syria on the 15th of August 2022, using an IED to kill the occupants. (source)
  • Islamic State in Syria also killed a high-ranking SDF Lieutenant on the 22nd of August 2022. (source)
  • IS leadership is still managing between $25million and $50 million in finances. Allowing the group to maintain its efforts in Syria and the Levant. (source)
  • IS have increased its use of UAVs in the past 12 months, particularly in Eastern Syria and Iraq. (source)

Key Judgement 2 – It is likely that over the next 6 months IS will continue to support the tribes that were once part of its ‘caliphate’.

  • The lack of economic and political support by the US and its allies in the regions of Raqqa and Deir al-Zor helps to retain local support in the regions once held by IS. (source)
  • Islamic State is able to maintain sleeper cells in many regions of Syria. This ensures that local tribal leaders and people will not go against it. Because people are still scared of being caught co-operating with international actors. (source)
  • Furthermore, the security focussed operations by the US and its regional allies are to blame for the inability to rehabilitate the local populace away from IS. (source)

Key Judgement 3 – It is likely that the Al-Hol refugee camp in Northern Syria will serve as a recruitment camp in the next 6 months.

  • In July 2022, Senator Lindsey Graham warned the US to once again pay attention to developments in north-eastern Syria. Warning that the living conditions in the camp are primed to make it an ISIS recruitment factory for future generations. (source)
  • It follows the warnings after the Hakasah prison break in January 2022. In which hardened IS fighters were freed following an attack by IS. (source)
  • Furthermore, videos have surfaced on Twitter from inside al-Hol. In which the women of IS describe how its sons will one day behead the infidels. (source)

Intelligence Cut-off Date 15/8/22

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