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Islamic State Plotted Comeback Long Before Syria Prison Attack

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The Wall Street Journal

Islamic State Plotted Comeback Long Before Syria Prison Attack

Jihadist group demonstrates it can adapt after being driven from power

By Jared Malsin and Benoit Faucon

Islamic State has been slowly preparing for a comeback in the Syrian and Iraqi territory that it lost nearly three years ago.

Black Islamic State flags have cropped up in northeastern Syria in recent months, witnesses say. Men claiming to represent the jihadists have extorted shopkeepers and truck drivers. Over the past year, the extremists have killed dozens of people in shootings and suicide bombings that attracted little attention outside the region.

“The insurgency never went away,” said Gregory Waters, a research analyst who tracks Islamic State attacks with the Counter Extremism Project, a think tank. “They’ve been growing stronger.” There is little chance that the group could regain its former strength, according to local and Western security officials, who argue that regional security forces have improved their capabilities since 2014, when Iraq’s military crumbled in the face of an Islamic State onslaught. Islamic State now poses little threat to the U.S. homeland, although lone attackers could act in the group’s name, American officials say. However, the group’s persistence presents a challenge for Washington, with over 3,000 U.S. troops in Syria and Iraq with the main mission of assisting in the fight against Islamic State. The Biden administration has moved to reduce the U.S. military footprint in the Middle East and lean more heavily on the Syrian Democratic Forces to contain Islamic State and oversee prisons and camps holding its members.”

Full story https://www.wsj.com/articles/islamic-state-plotted-comeback-long-before-syria-prison-attack-11643381486

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