President Obama’s war against the fighters of the Islamic State (Daesh/ISIS/ISIL) just scored a slew of major victories as the group runs low on money, fuel, and fighters. Yesterday, American airstrikes destroyed two chemical weapons facilities near the Iraqi city of Mosul, using information that the military had gotten from a mid-level Daesh operative. Another defector handed over a list of identifying information for over 22,000 jihadis. In about a month, military officials say “he has given the U.S. the most in-depth understanding of ISIS’s chemical attack capabilities and aspirations” – all without the use of torture, Mr. Trump. The head engineer of Daesh’s chemical weapons “program,” Sleiman Daoud al-Afari, was captured by US Special Forces a few hours ago; yesterday, a drone strike seriously injured the Minister of War, Omar “the Chechen” al-Shishani.
The chemical weapons capabilities of Daesh, which extend just to crude chlorine and mustard agent, are sharply curtailed as Daesh is pushed back on all fronts. They can use the agents in com/K24English/status/703955951049646081″>primitive, small-scale strikes but lack the resources and capabilities for any major chemical attacks. Reports from Iraqi security units note that Daesh’s chemical shelling is more of an attack on morale than it is an effective battlefield weapon.
A coalition of militias (Syrian Defence Forces or SDF) led by the Kurdish YPG recently liberated the key town of al-Shaddadi in northern Syria, leaving Raqqa as Daesh’s sole remaining stronghold in Syria. Similar advances by Iraqi security forces on the other side of of the border have combined to take 35,000km of territory away from Daesh (about the size of Taiwan), leaving them with mostly useless desert under their control.
While the Republican presidential debates continue to portray Daesh as a major threat to our national security, the biggest threat is posed by the strategies that Trump and the rest of the warmongering Republicans would use to “destroy” Daesh. It’s very easy to say that you would “destroy” Daesh, but without a plan to deal with the splinter groups that would inevitably emerge we’d be right back where we started – but with boots on the ground in a hostile land caught in the middle of a conflict with more than a thousand separate armed groups. President Obama has made the right choices in the war against Daesh, and the end is near – but you won’t hear that on Fox News. Republicans would rather help the jihadis by terrorizing the American people for them with doomsday scenarios and constant threats of attack for cheap political points. Daesh is still a deadly threat to the people of Iraq and Syria, and their defeat should be a priority – but we shouldn’t let our imaginations get carried away.