Hey, how’s it going? I don’t want to generalize, but I would imagine that most of you reading this had a better weekend than ISIS did. I know I did, and I spent the weekend mostly in bed with a fever. In Delaware. Which is no knock on Delaware; I didn’t see much of it but it seems nice. But if I’m going to be sick in bed I’d rather be sick in my own bed, you know?
Anyway, I still had a better weekend than ISIS. I’m doing some writing hopefully for pay at the moment, but I wouldn’t be doing this blogging thing very well if I didn’t at least note that, in the space of just a couple of days, ISIS was sent running from the place where it’s supposed to win an epic victory over the forces of evil or whatever:
In the summer of 2014, ISIS fighters captured the Syrian village of Dabiq, near the Turkish border. The town doesn’t have any particular military significance but plays an outsized role in ISIS’s apocalyptic propaganda: According to one of the group’s favorite prophecies, the Prophet Muhammad predicted that the Day of Judgment will come after Muslims defeat “Rome” (a stand-in for Christian invaders) at Dabiq before conquering Constantinople. Despite its marginal strategic importance, ISIS heavily fortified the town and promoted that prophecy, particularly in propaganda aimed at international recruits; the group’s English-language magazine is called Dabiq. The entry of the United States and other “crusader nations” into the conflict only raised expectations that the final showdown at Dabiq was nigh. But over the weekend, ISIS lost control of Dabiq after a short fight with Syrian rebels backed by Constantinople’s current tenants, Turkey. It appears the Day of Judgment will have to wait for a bit. The Islamic State’s own end times, however, are upon it.
And then this happened:
Kurdish forces on Monday morning began advancing on a string of villages east of Mosul, the start of a long-awaited campaign to reclaim Iraq’s second-largest city from the Islamic State, which seized it more than two years ago, officials said.
About 4,000 Kurdish pesh merga troops are involved in the operation to retake 10 villages, the opening phase of a battle that could take weeks or months and could involve nearly 30,000 Iraqi and Kurdish troops, with American warplanes providing air support. Iraqi counterterrorism forces, which work closely with American Special Operations commandos in Iraq, are also expected to join the Kurdish forces in the coming days.
The operation began hours after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced in a brief speech aired on state television just before 2 a.m. that the long-awaited campaign to liberate Mosul had begun.
“The Iraqi flag will be raised in the middle of Mosul, and in each village and corner very soon,” Mr. Abadi said, dressed in a military uniform and surrounded by officers.
The Mosul operation will probably take weeks if not months, but it is exceedingly unlikely that ISIS will be able to hang on to the city, or whatever is left of it, in the end. So, yeah, Baghdadi and the boys have had a pretty rough couple of days.
UPDATE: I don’t know how I left Libya out of this, but it’s not looking good for ISIS there either:
Libyan forces are close to ending a six-month campaign to liberate Sirte from Islamic State, which took over the city more than a year after taking advantage of factional infighting that emerged after the fall of strongman Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Forces mostly from nearby Misrata city are pushing ahead street by street, facing snipers and suicide bombers. They are helped by U.S. air strikes since August and coordination with small teams of Western special forces on the ground.
On Sunday, Libyan forces recaptured the city’s Cambo area, and swept out tunnels used by militants to hide and prepare ambushes, and seized a field hospital. They found charred bodies of militants hit by air strikes.