ISIS In Syria Is Not Destroyed Yet, The Pentagon Just Admitted

A member of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), made up of an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, looks at smoke rising in the al-Meshleb neighbourhood of Raqa as they try to advance further into the Islamic State (IS) group's Syrian bastion, on June 7, 2017 two days after finally entering the northern city.

ISIS is like a plantar wart on your toe: If you don’t cut all of it out, it will come back and start spreading again.

That appears to be what’s happening in Syria, where the terrorist group has surged attacks into areas that the Syrian regime and its Russian allies had controlled, a U.S. military spokesman said on Tuesday.

Previously, government officials confidently asserted that ISIS has lost 98% of its caliphate in Iraq and Syria since U.S.-led military operations began in August 2014 Now that ISIS is no longer a conventional army, the fight has become more complicated. The terrorist group is embracing asymmetric warfare tactics and can appear in areas thought cleared. The Syrian regime and Russians prefer to use brute force to solve all problems, but ISIS is attacking their weaknesses, not strengths.

Since December, ISIS has started to ramp up attacks against pro-regime forces west of the Euphrates River since December, said Army Col. Ryan Dillon. Unconfirmed media reports indicate that ISIS may have retaken neighborhoods in southern Damascus, he said.

“In the pro-regime area west of the Euphrates River, we have seen a resurgence – or, rather some ISIS elements coming back and attacking, with success, pro-regime forces,” Dillon told reporters during a Pentagon news conference.

With recent gains in regime-held territory, ISIS currently controls “less than 10%” of its former territory, he said.

“We had said 98%, but as we’ve seen ISIS start to resurge in areas west of the Euphrates River, we’ll just keep it well over 90% of the territory that ISIS used to have has been retaken,” Dillon said.

However, after Tuesday’s briefing, Dillon backtracked on his comments about ISIS expanding into western Syria, telling Task & Purpose the 98% figure still remains accurate.

“Out of the about 100,000 square kilometers of territory that ISIS once held, there are still about 2,000 square kilometers that remain to be cleared,” Dillon said in an interview. “About 98% is where we stand on ISIS controlling territory from their high water mark.”

Dillon said he was unable to quantify how much territory west of the Euphrates ISIS may have captured. He also said he is unsure whether ISIS still controls neighborhoods in southern Damascus, adding: “I should not have said that they are retaking territory.”

None of the territory in Iraq or Syria that the U.S. military and its allies have cleared has fallen back to ISIS control, Dillon explained. Unlike the U.S.-led coalition, the Syrian regime and Russians do not deploy enough defensive forces to prevent ISIS fighters from retaking territory, he said.

If reports that ISIS retook territory in southern Damascus are accurate, it would mean that ISIS moved from the Euphrates across regime-held western Syria without being stopped, he said.

“Without that kind of emphasis on local security, you see what has happened on the west side of the Euphrates,” Dillon said. “As I look at the history of the fight against ISIS on the western side of the Euphrates – in Palmyra, as an example – the regime with Russian support took Palmyra; the Russians brought in a band and they played; then two weeks later, ISIS retook it, and that means they had to go back and kick them out again. This has happened more than once throughout western Syria.”


An Austrian Jagdkommando K9 unit conducts training (Austrian Armed Forces photo)

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Conflict photographer Lynsey Addario has seen a hell of a lot of combat over the past twenty years. She patrolled Afghanistan's Helmand Province with the Marines, accompanied the Army on night raids in Baghdad, took artillery fire with rebel fighters in Libya, and has taken photos in countless other wars and humanitarian disasters around the world.

Along the way, Addario captured images of plenty of women serving with pride in uniform, not only in the U.S. armed forces, but also on the battlefields of Syria, Colombia, South Sudan and Israel. Her photographs are the subject of a new article in the November 2019 special issue of National Geographic, "Women: A Century of Change," the magazine's first-ever edition written and photographed exclusively by women.

The photos showcase the wide range of goals and ideals for which these women took up arms. Addario's work includes captivating vignettes of a seasoned guerrilla fighter in the jungles of Colombia; a team of Israeli military police patrolling the streets of Jerusalem; and a unit of Kurdish women guarding ISIS refugees in Syria. Some fight to prove themselves, others seek to ignite social change in their home country, and others do it to liberate other women from the grip of ISIS.

Addario visited several active war zones for the piece, but she found herself shaken by something much closer to home: the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina.

Addario discussed her visit to boot camp and her other travels in an interview with Task & Purpose, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

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My brother earned the Medal of Honor for saving countless lives — but only after he was left for dead

"As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night."


Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

Air Force Master Sgt. John "Chappy" Chapman is my brother. As one of an elite group, Air Force Combat Control — the deadliest and most badass band of brothers to walk a battlefield — John gave his life on March 4, 2002 for brothers he never knew.

They were the brave men who comprised a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that had been called in to rescue the SEAL Team 6 team (Mako-30) with whom he had been embedded, which left him behind on Takur Ghar, a desolate mountain in Afghanistan that topped out at over 10,000 feet.

As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night. After many delays, the mission should and could have been pushed one day, but Szymanski ordered the team to proceed as planned, and Britt "Slab" Slabinski, John's team leader, fell into step after another SEAL team refused the mission.

But the "plan" went even more south when they made the rookie move to insert directly atop the mountain — right into the hands of the bad guys they knew were there.

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Photo: ABC News/screenshot

Federal court judge Reggie Walton in Washington D.C. has ruled Hoda Muthana, a young woman who left her family in Hoover, Alabama, to join ISIS, is not a U.S. citizen, her attorneys told Thursday.

The ruling means the government does not recognize her a citizen of the United States, even though she was born in the U.S.

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Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. -- The Marine Corps could train as many as eight co-ed companies at boot camp each year, and the general overseeing the effort is hitting back against those complaining that the move is lowering training standards.

"Get over it," Maj. Gen. William Mullen, the head of Training and Education Command told on Thursday. "We're still making Marines like we used to. That has not changed."

Mullen, a career infantry officer who has led troops in combat — including in Fallujah, Iraq — said Marines have likely been complaining about falling standards since 1775.

"I'm assuming that the second Marine walking into Tun Tavern was like 'You know ... our standards have gone down. They're just not the same as it they used to be,'" Mullen said, referring to the service's famous birthplace. "That has always been going on in the history of the Marine Corps."

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