The US-led global coalition against ISIS revealed there are 3,000 members of its forces currently in Iraq.
The announcement came after the recent controversy created following the dismissal of US Defense Secretary Mark Esper by outgoing US President Donald Trump and the appointment of Christopher Miller as acting minister.
Political observers believe that the appointment of Miller after President-elect Joe Biden won the elections, could indicate a possible US strike against Iran.
Miller announced the withdrawal of the remaining soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, which led to speculations about whether a war scenario or a strike is still possible.
Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) Spokesman Colonel Wayne Marotto announced that coalition forces are repositioning in the country after handing over some military bases to Iraqi troops as a result of the success they have achieved.
The spokesman pointed out that the number of US forces is close to 3000 soldiers, and this number depends on the circumstances.
He indicated that the coalition carried out over 37,000 sorties in Iraq during the past six years, noting that the coalition aims to help Baghdad pursue ISIS remnants until the country reaches stability.
The Iraqi forces have proven their success in fighting terrorism in cooperation with the coalition forces, confirmed Marotto.
However, it is still not clear whether the coalition forces will remain in Iraq after the recent developments, or they will be included in the withdrawal which Miller announced, saying he was “weary of war” and it was time to end US conflicts in the Middle East.
“We met the challenge; we gave it our all. Now, it’s time to come home,” Miller told Department of Defense employees.
Meanwhile, expert and advisor to the European Center for Counterterrorism and Intelligence Studies, Imad Alou, indicated that despite the death of its leader and incurred losses, ISIS managed within a short period of time to rearrange itself, including its structure and leadership.
Alou told Asharq al-Awsat that the terrorist organization formed several committees tasked with restoring its operations and launching terrorist attacks in remote unmonitored areas.
He explained that the recent escalation of terrorist operations coincided with the coronavirus pandemic, as the organization benefited from the Iraqi forces’ preoccupation with lockdowns and confronting the repercussions of the pandemic.
The expert noted that ISIS tried to increase its operations in areas liked eastern Diyala near the Iraqi-Iranian borders, al-Hamrin mountain range, Makhoul mountains, southwest of Kirkuk, all the way to Nineveh governorate and the Iraqi-Syrian border.
These areas have difficult terrains, making it hard for Iraqi heavy military equipment to reach, he explained.
Alou believes the organization is no longer capable of launching coordinated attacks or maintaining its control over the areas, so it is resorting to various tactics, including tasking groups of no more than five members to carry out terrorist operations.