The surprising and sudden rise of ISIS (Daesh) was seen by the World with sheer bafflement, but its downfall is also coming no short of a surprise. The evil that rose as a self-proclaimed caliphate, showed some of the most gruesome and heinous killings the world had ever seen. The world also witnessed the true image of the Kharijites, who are cloaked in Islamic appearances, but from within are undoubtedly the most ardent enemies of Islam. How this mammoth will be eventually brought down and will it be finally choked to death, however remains yet to be seen.
Since August, when Turkey sent tanks and Special Forces into Syria and indulged in its most significant involvement in the Syrian quagmire yet by initiating operation Euphrates Shield, this catalysed the retreat and defeat of ISIS fighters from the Turkey-Syria border areas and onwards. We have been witnessing victory after victory and town after town being freed by the Sunni fighters along with the Turkish Forces from the clutches of ISIS. People’s lives have been restored in these areas who are once again now living a life free from ISIS. More than hundred kilometres of an area was freed from Jarabulus to Azaz which then gradually progressed towards the town of Mare’/Marea in the Azaz District.
One of the most significant blows to the fake caliphate came when one of the key strongholds of ISIS, the North Syrian town of Dabiq 40 kilometres from Aleppo, was overrun by the forces and freed from ISIS Kharijites. Moreover, the Sunni fighters in this operation released a statement that they will not stop and will continue through al-Bab and reach Aleppo, hinting that the fight will continue until the areas are declared ISIS-free.
It is not only in Syria or Iraq where ISIS is being crushed. In Libya, areas under ISIS control have been reduced to a mere 800 metres of costal area. In Nigeria, ISIS affiliates, Boko Haram, has divided into two groups, which has resulted in the loss of most of the lands they controlled and are now fighting among themselves over their so-called caliphate. In Afghanistan, or as ISIS calls it ‘Wilayat of Khurasaan’, their leadership including Wali-e-Khurasan (Representative of Khurasan) have been killed, and Nangarhar Province, which was considered to be a stronghold of ISIS, is no more willing to accommodate them. They are already searching for safe havens to seek shelter, but have been unsuccessful so far as they face opposition from Taliban.
If we take a look at ISIS leaders, then it is clear that its prominent leadership has been wiped off as is evident from the deaths of Abu Muhammad Adnani, Abu Umar Sheeshani, Ahamad Khattab Umar, Mullah Abdur Rauf, Hafiz Saeed Khan, etc.
It was in Mosul where Bhagdadi declared the so-called Caliphate, declared thousands of people as non-believers and slaughtered them leaving only a few hundred. As of now, it is at Mosul where the critical last blow is going to be inflicted on this abomination. The presence of ISIS fighters is estimated to be around 7000 in the city. Mosul has been surrounded by 100,000 armed soldiers from three sides.
What is evident is that ISIS fighters who used to display weaponry captured from the Iraqi Army, has now failed to put it to any use, and it seems to be running from every battlefield. Moreover, since the assault on Mosul began, reports and videos have emerged from the city in which ISIS Kharijites are torturing and killing innocent civilians, especially children, who are being falsely accused of supporting and spying for those attacking the city. One of the videos showed a few Kharijites torturing a 14 year old boy by hitting him with a hammer. In this killing spree ISIS claimed the lives of 280 innocent civilians.
As many groups would do in a state of panic, or in moments of desperation during one’s last breaths, some have resorted to suicide attacks at the forces advancing towards Mosul as they get within 10 km of city’s limits, but that strategy hasn’t done any considerable damage yet. On the other hand, they are trying to send groups to different cities for counter attacks, which appears to be an attempt to distract attention.
One such attempt was made in the Iraqi oil city of Kirkuk where the attacks launched by ISIS fighters on the city were said to have been aimed at diverting the attention of troops advancing towards Mosul. Brigadier General Khattab Omer of the Kirkuk police said that all the attackers were either killed by their troops or blew themselves up. However, he could not give the exact number of militants that launched the attack. The attack on Kirkuk resulted in the deaths of at least 16 civilians. Gunmen wearing suicide vests attacked government and security buildings in the city. They also killed 13 workers, including four Iranians at a power plant north of Kirkuk. A local journalist was also reported to have been killed by a sniper in the city.
In another attempt, ISIS militants stormed the town of Ar-Rutbah in the west of Iraq, just two days after they shocked the country with the surprise attack on Kirkuk. Iraqi security officials say militants co-ordinated with sleeper cells to launch the overnight attack on Rutba, which lies on an international highway around 110 km from the Jordanian border.
The results of the present attempts against ISIS are yet to be seen, but it is clear that it is nowhere near the threat it posed two years ago. The present advancement on Mosul will break the backbone of this Kharijite Fitnah as the current operation against the outfit is the largest one in the history of Iraq since the 2003 invasion by the US led forces.
There is a serious risk that as ISIS gets cornered in Iraq, it is going to try and pop up somewhere else, and that could include attacks in Europe and the United States, and ISIS has made it clear; that is something they are focused on. But as we have seen in the recent history, ISIS has only been able to claim lone wolf attacks. What will be the fate of one of the most barbaric Kharijites in the modern world is yet to be seen. But what has been narrated in the authentic Hadith traditions regarding the cycle of these movements will come to pass, as it has before ISIS as well.