“The physical caliphate affects the virtual caliphate, which affects the narrative and the physical resources,” Dunford said. “And it further ‘disincentivizes’ people who want to be foreign fighters from coming to the region.”
Once Raqqa and Mosul are seized, the last remaining ISIL stronghold is in the Euphrates River Valley near Qaim, Iraq.
Operations against the group also continue in other areas where it has surfaced. In Nigeria, Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the group last year, but it has split in two and one portion is sanctioned by ISIL. “Right now, with local forces we’re providing some support, the French are providing support and we’ve kept pressure on them,” the general said. “It’s fair to say, they have lost momentum in West Africa.”
In Libya, a coalition has been conducting strikes on the group and ISIL is now reduced to a very small part of Sirte, Dunford said, noting that at a minimum, they have been disrupted and disorganized inside Libya.
In Afghanistan, ISIL held ground near Jalalabad, but the Afghan government launched three major operations against them this year, defense officials said, and where ISIL once numbered in the thousands, it is now in the hundreds and further lacking organization and leadership.
The ideology is still dangerous, the chairman said, and as ISIL is pressured they will revert to guerilla and insurgent warfare wherever possible. The group is encouraging their adherents to stay in their home countries, Dunford said. The global coalition is also looking for ways to stop fighters from coming home from Iraq and Syria to launch attacks.
The fight in cyberspace against the virtual caliphate continues, and DoD is cooperating with other agencies and other governments to win that battle, the chairman said.
(Source: US Dept of Defense)