The most recent quarterly report from the Lead Inspector General for Operation Inherent Resolve shows that despite the Islamic State continuing to wage an insurgency in both Iraq and Syria more than three years after it appeared to be vanquished after losing all the area it had ever controlled.
According to the research, ISIS committed 74 strikes in Syria and 73 attacks in Iraq between July and September. Small cells operating out of rural locations primarily carried out hit-and-run assaults on local law enforcement, with sporadic high-profile attacks in urban areas. The report cites several factors outside of the control of the U.S. military that have made their mission more challenging, including third parties like Iran; political instability, particularly Iraq’s difficulties forming a government; and social-economic instability. While approximately 2,500 U.S. troops are still in Iraq and another 900 are in Syria to help prevent ISIS from mounting a comeback, the report cites several factors that have made it more difficult for the U.S. military. It is unclear what steps the U.S. government could take to help address some of the political and socio-economic conditions that ISIS and other violent extremist groups have taken advantage of to reconstitute themselves, especially in Syria.