It’s been one year since the United States and its allies launched their air campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. After 5,885 airstrikes that killed an estimated 15,000 militant fighters and roughly 450 civilians, the terror group remains not only active, but a persistent threat to the region.
“It’s like squeezing a balloon. You can squeeze in one part but it only increases the pressure in other areas,” says Shiraz Maher, a senior fellow at King’s College London. “There have been some notable fighters killed, but the airstrikes have not really dented the leadership of IS or affected its operation capacity. They are still a very resilient movement on the ground.”