(GPA) Baghdad – As the Islamic State (IS) is losing the battle for Mosul in Iraq and more territory in Syria the group has seemingly reverted to more traditional acts of terror, most likely out of desperation.
Since mid-October, the operation to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul by American special forces, Iraqi military, and Shia militias has seen major progress that has taken around two thirds of the eastern half of the city from the grip of IS. While this is good news in some aspects, it seems to be leading IS militants to revert back to more familiar tactics of terrorism and insurgency. The latest being an attack on a popular nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey and a multiple bombings across the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. For many observers this seems familiar and almost like history repeating a time in the not too distant past, when these types of bombings were the preferred method of terrorists in Iraq against US led coalition forces.
The first bombing claimed by IS occurred on Saturday, in a crowded market in the Al Sinak neighborhood of Baghdad. There were two explosions, one, apparently from a bomb planted inside a used auto parts store and the other believed to be a suicide bomber in an explosive vest. The exact story behind the bombings is still somewhat unclear, pending further investigation, some sources say it was two panted bombs and others argue it was two suicide bombers. The attack killed at least 28 Iraqis and injured another 54.
A second wave of bombings occurred across Baghdad today, with IS again claiming responsibility. The bombs targeted primarily Shia populated neighborhoods and according to the most recent reports killed at least 35 and injured over 60 others. IS has apparently released video of the bombings, in what may be a possible effort to confirm their responsibility since they have a habit of taking credit for almost any attack, anywhere.
With IS losing most of their physical territory across Syria and Iraq to opposing terrorist groups, Shia militias backed by several countries in the region and the governments of multiple countries, it seems the inevitable result is coming to fruition. The territory designated as ‘the caliphate’ by IS is quickly disappearing and will most likely cause the group to escalate the tried and true methods of guerrilla warfare from their past.
Despite recent slowdowns in the operations to retake Mosul, the last bridge over the Euphrates river was destroyed by a US airstrike last week, effectively cutting off any chance of escape for the militants. The Iraqi government projects the city to be fully liberated by April of this year and while this is undoubtedly a positive, this recent wave of bombings by the increasingly desperate ‘caliphate’ may just be just the tip of the spear and the beginning of the groups return to ‘traditional methods’ of terrorism.
James Carey is an organizer based in Detroit, Michigan, founder of Geopolitics Alert, and an experienced analyst on Middle Eastern affairs with a particular focus on Turkey. He also covers topics ranging from Latin America and Asia to Europe. You can also hear James in his weekly podcast; The Left is Dead which he co-hosts with investigative journalist Jake Anderson.