ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Islamic State published a lengthy audio recording on Monday, declaring that it remains a force to be reckoned with even as it loses its last patch of territory in Syria.
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF) continues its ongoing advance on the final holdout of the extremist group in the village of Baghouz as anti-ISIS coalition airstrikes, in support of the SDF, continue to pound the militant's positions.
Baghouz is a small area on the bank of the Euphrates River in eastern Syria, near the Iraqi border.
The SDF has slowed its forward push on multiple occasions to open a safe corridor for surrendering Islamic State members, their families, and various civilians, an earlier group of whom were attacked by a suicide bomber.
“Do you think that the scenes of the displacement of the weak and poor… out of Baghouz… will weaken the sons of the caliphate?… No.” said Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajer, an Islamic State spokesperson, in the 44-minute-long dispatch distributed by the terrorist group’s affiliate media organization, Al Furqan.
“The Islamic State is returning to the areas that have long sided with them,” Muhajer proclaimed in a clear attempt to display outward confidence at the terrorist organization’s claimed renewed strength, especially in areas it once occupied. Among them are Iraqi cities and towns where regular insurgency-style attacks continue to threaten the livelihoods of civilians and returning displaced persons.
The speaker added that the Islamic State figurehead Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had urged the “soldiers of the caliphate” to avoid using communications equipment because of the harm it inflicted on their previous battle efforts and called on all to “take caution.”
Although the territorial collapse of the self-proclaimed caliphate is imminent with the fall of Baghouz, the organization will continue to pose a significant security threat in Syria as it now does in Iraq, most notably in areas previously under its strict rule.
Muhajer also urged supporters to launch attacks in all the countries that took part in fighting his organization, invoking the recent bloody attack on two mosques in New Zealand’s city of Christchurch that resulted in the deaths of 50 Muslims as a way to incite retaliatory violence.
Editing by John J. Catherine