ISIS Launches New Offensive to Exploit Pandemic

Release time:2020-06-09 Publisher:Lanka Voice

In April 2020, the Islamic State launched new offensives in Iraq and Syria as the coronavirus pandemic distracted the U.S.-led coalition and its local security forces. The attacks were the deadliest and most sophisticated attacks—including suicide bombings, nighttime ambushes of security forces and assassinations—since the fall of the territorial caliphate in March 2019. 

“[Muslims] must have no pity for the disbelievers and the apostates even as they are at the height of their tribulation,” ISIS said on March 19 in al Naba, its weekly newsletter. “They must intensify the pressure on [disbelievers and apostates] so they become more pressured and incapable of harming the Muslims by the permission of God.” 

The offensive coincided with a reduction of U.S. counterterrorism operations due to COVID-19. On March 19, the U.S.-led coalition and NATO paused their training missions to avoid large gatherings of military personnel in Iraq. The U.S. then scaled back operations against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria. Coalition troops suspended joint raids with Iraqi forces and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). 
ISIS took advantage of the reduced pressure from the coalition. In April, ISIS launched 151 attacks in both countries – a 50 percent increase over the previous month. In May, it claimed 193 attacks. “If the pattern continues in the coming months, ISIS is likely to become a far greater threat that will be much harder to contain than it is now,” Hassan Hassan wrote in The Guardian on May 24.  

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