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IS Attacks on Track to Double          07/17 06:07

   

   BAGHDAD (AP) -- The U.S. Central Command said Wednesday that the Islamic 
State group is trying "to reconstitute" as the number of attacks in Syria and 
Iraq is on track to double those of the previous year.

   IS has claimed 153 attacks in both countries in the first six months of 
2024, CENTCOM said in a statement. According to a U.S. defense official, who 
spoke on condition of anonymity as he wasn't allowed to speak publicly on the 
matter, the group was behind 121 attacks in Syria and Iraq in 2023.

   "The increase in attacks indicates ISIS is attempting to reconstitute 
following several years of decreased capability," CENTCOM said.

   The announcement comes just after the 10-year mark since the militant group 
declared its caliphate in large parts of Iraq and Syria. At its peak, the group 
ruled an area half the size of the United Kingdom where it attempted to enforce 
its extreme interpretation of Islam, which included attacks on religious 
minority groups and harsh punishment of Muslims deemed to be apostates.

   Militants also killed thousands of members of the Yazidi religious minority 
and kidnapped thousands of women and children, many of whom were subjected to 
sexual abuse and human trafficking.

   A coalition of more than 80 countries, led by the United States, was formed 
to fight IS, which lost its hold on the territory it controlled in Iraq and 
2017 and in Syria in 2019, although sleeper cells remain in both countries and 
abroad.

   Iraqi officials say that they can keep the IS threat under control with 
their own forces and have entered into talks with the U.S. aimed at winding 
down the mission of the U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq.

   The talks come at a time of increased domestic tensions over the U.S. 
military presence.

   From October to February, an umbrella group of Iran-backed militias calling 
itself the Islamic Resistance in Iraq launched regular drone attacks on bases 
housing U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria, which they said was in retaliation for 
Washington's support of Israel in the ongoing war in Gaza and were aimed at 
forcing U.S. forces to withdraw from Iraq.

   Those attacks largely halted after three U.S. soldiers were killed in a 
strike on a base in Jordan, near the Syrian border in late January, prompting 
U.S. retaliatory strikes in Iraq.

   On Tuesday, two Iraqi militia officials said they had launched a new drone 
attack targeting the Ain al-Asad air base in Iraq. The officials spoke on 
condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly. It 
was unclear whether the attack had hit its target. U.S. officials did not 
immediately respond to requests for comment.

 
 
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