A good way to end 2015 will be the news that Ramadi has actually been retaken from ISIS (where the civilian population were advised yesterday by air-dropped leaflets to leave the town and where Iraqi troops are reported today to be entering the town).
ISIS lost Kobane earlier to Kurdish forces and after the Russian entry their northern territories in Syria are beginning to come under pressure. But it is when they lose Mosul and Raqqa and Palmyra that their losses will become irretrievable I think. Of course they are now trying to establish themselves in the confusion that is Libya.
IHS has a new map of the territories lost by ISIS
The Islamic State has consistently lost territory month-on-month throughout 2015, according to new analysis released today by IHS Inc. (NYSE: IHS), the leading global source of critical information and insight.
Using open source intelligence including social media and sources inside the countries, the team at IHS estimates that the Islamic State’s ‘caliphate’ shrunk by 12,800 km2 to 78,000 km2 between 1 January and 14 December 2015, a net loss of 14 percent.
The Islamic State’s losses in 2015 include large swathes of Syria’s northern border with Turkey, including the Tal Abyad border crossing, which was the group’s main access point to the Turkish border from their de-facto capital Raqqa.
Retaking Mosul, Raqqa and Palmyra during 2016 will be a hopeful sign that ISIS can be reduced to less than the critical mass of territory under their control. But the idea of a Caliphate will remain as long as they have the tacit support and their inspiration from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.