By Ty Joplin
Combined Iraqi Forces and Pro-Iraq militias announced Oct. 5 that Hawija, the last urban stronghold of ISIS in Iraq, was taken from the terrorist group after only 15 days of fighting.
Shortly thereafter, on Oct. 9, Javad Talibawi, the spokesperson for the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), announced a new campaign to remove ISIS from their last holdouts in Western Iraq, along the border with Syria.
As of now, ISIS only holds two major towns in Iraq--Rawa and al-Qa’im, and both are under threat by Iraq and its militias.
Though lingering cells of ISIS fighters and sympathizers remain in Iraq and will continue to pose small security risks, ISIS is on the brink of losing all territorial control of the country.
In 2014, ISIS launched a blitzkrieg across northern Iraq, quickly taking Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, and Tikrit. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of ISIS, announced the beginning of ISIS’ supposed-Caliphate, or Islamic State, in Mosul.
In Syria too, ISIS has lost the vast majority of its territory: its de facto capital, Raqqa, is about to be captured by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) with U.S. air support.
Though ISIS remains a dangerous threat in the region, its near-total military defeat is a success for the embattled region which is remains crippled by civil and proxy wars.
As Iraq begins to imagine itself without an ISIS occupation, the nation weary by continuous conflict may ask itself what will come next.