Islamic State

IS 'diminished' but threat 'hasn't gone away', coalition deputy chief says

The deputy chief of the combined global task force working to defeat so-called Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria has told Forces News the group has "diminished" but the threat "hasn't gone away".

Brigadier Karl Harris is the Deputy Commanding General of the Operation Inherent Resolve Combined Joint Task Force, the military coalition working to defeat IS, also known as Daesh, in Iraq and Syria.

Speaking to Forces News he said "jets are still flying, people are still working in the headquarters, Iraqi security forces are continuing to take the fight to Daesh".

"Daesh remains on the agenda and whilst the huge effects of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, quite naturally, have caught many people's attention, and, quite rightly, significant focus on addressing the threat there, the threat of Daesh hasn't gone away," he said.

"Whilst it hasn't necessarily caught the headlines in the way it might have done in the past, the focus on defeating Daesh remains absolutely alive and determined and well."

Brig Harris added that IS are "not able to control ground" like they have done previously.

"We recall the so-called caliphate where the swathe of land across Iraq and Syria, almost the size of Great Britain, was taken," he said.

Watch: Who are ISIS-K?

"The strength of Daesh is diminishing over time in terms of numbers… their command and control, the sophistication of their leadership and their ability to enjoy the freedom of action that they might have had in the past.

"Well, they have been diminished and post-Baghouz, in March 2019, we see a Daesh that is not how it was, it is far removed from how it was.

"It's now a focus on our partner forces, who are doing a tremendous job in chasing Daesh down where they find them and making sure that the enduring defeat is achieved."

Brig Harris also outlined that the "training provided by British Forces and other members of the global coalition is really starting to pay dividends now".

"We have seen, successively, year on year, a reduction in Iraq of the number of Daesh attacks and, critically, the sophistication and lethality of those attacks," he said. "That has happened by accident."

Watch: An RAF pilot’s high-risk world fighting IS.

He added that "incredible sacrifices" have been made by personnel in the region and members of the global coalition to make sure "we are rid of the scourge of Daesh's hateful ideology and methods".

"It remains absolutely critical that we continue to invest and make sure we see this through to the end," he said.

"It is impossible to define an end date and it is also impossible to rub our crystal ball and assess… what might emerge from the near future.

"But what I can say with absolute certainty is we are committed to finishing the job, whenever the end is."

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