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Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

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Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
الدولة الإسلامية في العراق والشام
ad-Dawlah al-Islāmiyah fī 'l-ʿIrāq wa-sh-Shām
FounderAbu Musab al-Zarqawi [5]

[7],Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi ,[8] Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi [9]

Dates of operation
Active regions
ISIL's territory, in grey, at the time of its greatest territorial extent (May 2015).
Map legend
  •   Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
  •   Syrian government
  •   Lebanese government
  •   Iraqi Kurdistan forces
  •   Tahrir al-Sham (HTS)
  • Note: Iraq and Syria contain large desert areas with sparse populations. These areas are mapped as under the control of forces holding roads and towns within them.
AlliesSee section
OpponentsState opponents

Non-state opponents

Full list...
Battles and warsthe Iraq War (2003–2011), the Iraqi insurgency, the Syrian Civil War, the Iraqi Civil War, the Second Libyan Civil War, the Boko Haram insurgency, the War in North-West Pakistan, the War in Afghanistan, the Yemeni Civil War, and other conflicts
Primary target of Operation Inherent Resolve and of the military intervention against ISIL in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Nigeria

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), or Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS),[86] or Islamic State, (IS)[87][88] is a Islamist militant group. In Arabic it is often called the phrase "Daesh" but it is disliked by the group which causes enemies of the group to use the phrase.[89][90] It operates in Libya,[91] Nigeria,[92] Syria and a small part of northern Iraq. It is influenced by the Wahhabi Sect of Islam.[93][94] It claims the status of independent state for the territories under its control in Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, and Syria. It is opposed to Shiism and has been described as "Shiaphobic".[95][96]

The earliest evolution of the group traces its origins back to the Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad group which was founded by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in 1999. This group eventually grew and became a centralized network in the early years of the Iraq War and associated itself with Al-Qaeda in 2004. In 2006, the group formed into the Mujahideen Shura Council which was an umbrella organization that was composed of different insurgent groups. On 15 October 2006, the group rebranded itself as the Islamic State of Iraq and appointed Abu Omar al-Baghdadi as its emir. Its aim was to establish a caliphate in the Sunni majority regions of Iraq, later expanding this to include Syria.[97] In February 2014, after an eight-month power struggle, Al-Qaeda cut all ties with ISIL.[98]

ISIL is millenarianist,[99] meaning it believes that society is going to change a lot, and everything we know will end soon. The group recruits new members by promising them sex slaves or cheap marriages.[100]

Fighting[change | change source]

At the height of the Iraq War, ISIL was in the Iraqi provinces of Al Anbar, Ninawa, Kirkuk, most of Salah ad Din, parts of Babil, Diyala and Baghdad. It claimed Baqubah as its capital.[101][102][103][104] In the ongoing Syrian Civil War, the group has a large presence in the Syrian governorates of Ar-Raqqa, Idlib and Aleppo.[105][106]

The group has attacked government and military targets. It has claimed responsibility for attacks that killed thousands of Iraqi civilians.[107] During the time coalition forces were present in Iraq, the group suffered some setbacks. By 2012, it was thought to have regained most of its strength and more than doubled the number of its members to about 2,500.[108]

In 2013, a letter and an audio recording of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda, was leaked to Al Jazeera. In it, al-Zawahiri disbanded the Syrian faction of ISIL.[109] The group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, opposed this ruling on the basis of Islamic law.[110] The group has since continued to operate in Syria. Starting in April 2013, it made rapid military gains in large parts of Northern Syria, where the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights described them as "the strongest group".[111] They have sought publicity by releasing videos of the decapitation (beheading) of journalists and other prisoners of war mainly done by member Jihadi John. He was killed in November 2015.

Worldwide caliphate[change | change source]

In June 2014, it announced a worldwide caliphate. In 2014, ISIL successfully fought in a large-scale offensive in Iraq. After this offensive, ISIL is reported to have seized control of most of Mosul, the second biggest city in Iraq, its surrounding Nineveh province, and the city of Fallujah.[112] In the spring of 2015 ISIL fought for control of Tikrit, the administrative center of the Salah ad Din Governorate.[113]

In spring of 2016 the Army of Iraq took back Fallujah. At the end of 2016 the army took back Ramadi in Al Anbar Province, and in early 2017 Iraqi government forces retook Mosul. In October, Raqqa, the former headquarters, fell.

Film[change | change source]

The 2014 film The Blue Man,[114] which is related to The New York Times article titled "Uncovering Iraq's Horrors in Desert Graves" written by John F. Burns,[115] also mentions mass killings of Shia Muslims by the Islamic State between 2003 to 2006.

The flag of the Free Syrian Army is also used by ISIL sometimes

References[change | change source]

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