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Daesh ‘Exploited’ COVID-19 Restrictions, Ramped Up Attacks in Iraq - IG Report

© AP Photo / AP Photo via militant website, FileIslamic State militants. File photo
Islamic State militants. File photo - Sputnik International
Daesh forces stepped up attacks in Iraq during the holy month of Ramadan while also managing to exploit COVID-19 restrictions that have impacted Iraqi security forces, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and US-led coalition forces, according to a new report issued from the US Department of Defense Inspector General's Office.

Citing intelligence from Combined Joint Task Force–Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), the report summary, dated July 31, 2020, and released publicly on Tuesday, asserted that Daesh militants have “conducted a surge of attacks during Ramadan and exploited restrictions placed on security forces due to COVID-19 to conduct more attacks.”

Ramadan began this year on the evening of April 24 and ended on the evening of May 23.

“Partner forces in both countries carried out operations against [Daesh] during the quarter, but due to COVID-19, the Coalition provided much of its support and training virtually,” the IG report revealed.

“Some researchers and analysts raised concerns that [Daesh] could exploit any reduction in pressure on the group, and assessed that [Daesh] could make gains if underlying conditions, such as ineffective government and sectarian tensions, are not addressed.”

Furthermore, concerns were raised in the report regarding the possible escape of thousands of Daesh prisoners being held in SDF-guarded detention centers. CJTF-OIR said the detainees present "an enduring and ever-increasing risk to mission."

Sputnik recently reported on research from the International Center for the Study of Radicalization which warned that terrorists view imprisonment “as an opportunity” to reconvene and plot new attacks.

“Imprisoned recruiters learn psychology to become better recruiters, for example, while imprisoned ideologues learn Islamic and jihadist history to become better ideologues,” the UK-based, non-governmental think tank’s study claimed.

At the same time, CJTF-OIR pushed back against recent reports of Daesh making a comeback in Iraq and Syria, asserting that the militants were unable to sustain their “higher level of activity” in the countries.

“[Daesh] is not resurging,” the joint task force claimed.

Additionally, the US’ Defense Intelligence Agency noted in the IG report that claims of Daesh-linked attacks in Syria have declined from April through June when compared to the previous quarter of the year.

The full report, as well as a summary of it, is currently available for download at the bottom of the IG’s news release.

World Politics Review reported on June 4 that Daesh had been “ramping up a campaign of violence in rural parts of Iraq,” and some 108 attacks linked to Daesh forces had been carried out in the country since April.

Lt. Gen. Pat White, commander of CJTF-OIR, attempted to make sense of the increase in Daesh activity in the region and told CNN on a May 8 phone call that the majority of the attacks were carried out to get “resources.”

He said that militants at that time were “kidnapping for ransom” and engaging in similar acts that would get them “smaller amounts of money.”

"They are lacking in financing, they're lacking in fighters, and they are lacking in support by the populace in most areas, and so this is all a part of their grand scheme to try to pull fighters and sympathizers underneath their cause, and they continue to fail,” he asserted.

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