Just 12 months ago, ISIS seemed unstoppable as they launched a major offensive on the predominately Kurdish city of Kobane (Ayn al-Arab). During early 2015, fighters loyal to the Islamic State managed to captured some 50% of the city and all surrounding villages. Despite waves of ISIS suicide bombers sent to Kobane, Kurdish fighters of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) remarkably managed to fight back and recapture the city in March of 2015; this victory must also be credited to the US airforce which relentlessly bombed ISIS fighters in Kobane while kindly aiding the YPG with supplies and ammunitions.
After ISIS was defeated at Kobane in northern Syria, their commanders shifted attention to Hasakah further east; the aforementioned city was (and still is) split-controlled between the Syrian Arab Army and Kurdish militants. Thereby, just 8 months ago, the Islamic State launched a massive offensive on Hasakah city. Although the frontline shifted back and forth, ISIS was eventually fully repelled 6 months ago. Since then, Kurdish fighters of the YPG and newly formed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have pushed south towards Raqqah and Deir Ezzor.
These provincial capitals represent the only major cities claimed by ISIS in Syria while in fact some 40% of Deir Ezzor remains under government control due to ongoing resistance of the Syrian Arab Army’s Major General Issam Zahreddine and his soldiers of the 104th Airborne Brigade of the Republican Guard. For now, it seems Kurdish forces keep advancing almost daily towards these predominately ISIS-held cities from the north while government troops are pressing on from the west.
As such, ISIS must now prioritize between several important frontlines while also battling the Iraqi Army in the neighbouring country. With an estimate decrease of 25% in terms of ISIS territory over the past year, their commanders will now face a considerable task in repelling various hostile factions from making encroachments upon Islamic State lands. As to add insult to injury, both the US Airforce and Russian Airforce seems more determined than ever to defeat ISIS once and for all.
Map credits to IUCA Analysts.