Ever since Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi government troops began an offensive to retake the city of Mosul yesterday, it has never been clearer that ISIS’s defeat in Iraq may be happening sooner than I imagined. After the militant group basically ran amok for a year in certain areas of Iraq, and the world was subjected to a large amount of horrifying executions and propaganda, there are a few big signs that the Islamic State is beginning to lose its territory and influence.
ISIS has lost almost a fourth of its territory over the past 15 months, according to IHS Markit, and Mosul, the city currently being retaken by Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers, is the biggest city under Islamic State control. If ISIS loses the city, they will have lost the crown jewel of their occupation. The siege could take up to two months, according to one general leading the assault, but afterwards, the coalition against ISIS will not have any bigger cities to capture.
So ISIS probably already has hit its peak in terms of territory and strength, and is on the decline towards dissolution. Bear in mind too, that most ISIS’s equipment, vehicles, and tanks are tremendously outdated Soviet-era weaponry, while the Iraqi government’s is modern, and receives much of its military weaponry from the United States. But that doesn’t mean that the war isn’t going to be a slow, bloody conflict. Many of the Iraqi government troops are poorly trained and have lackluster morale, which is a problem that has dogged the government and allowed ISIS to rise in the first place.
So how long will it take to defeat ISIS, given current trends? It’s difficult to say, but at this point I would estimate it will take 1-2 years before ISIS loses the majority of its territory and is on the run. But bear in mind that after ISIS is on the run, they may still manage to stick around for several years after, similar to how Al-Qaeda has managed to evade destruction for many years, even though Al-Qaeda was significantly weakened after the War on Terror.
I know many regular news addicts, including me, were prepared for the long haul with ISIS after their massive territory expansion in 2014. But as it turns out, after the battle for Mosul, the Islamic State may find itself looking down the barrel of a gun.