Hike in global ISIL attacks in past 3 months: study

The report from IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre suggests that air strikes by the US-led coalition have had only a limited impact on the group.

London // Attacks by ISIL jumped by more than 40 per cent per day in the third quarter compared to the previous three months, IHS Jane’s said on Thursday.

ISIL claimed a total of 1,086 attacks from July to September – averaging 11.8 per day, up from 8.3 per day between April and June, according to a report by the London-based analysis firm.

There were a total of 2,978 deaths worldwide in the same period – a huge 65.3 per cent increase in the average daily killings by the group compared to the previous three months, and an 81 per cent jump on one year earlier.

The figures suggest that air strikes by the US-led coalition have had only a limited impact on the group. IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre uses open sources to compile their database, and said ISIL likely carried out far more attacks that could not be verified.

“While the air strikes and wider coalition efforts have put the group under significant pressure, it is seemingly still some way from being sufficiently weakened to allow the recapture of territory, let alone be defeated,” Matthew Henman, head of the Terrorism and Insurgency Centre, said.

Russia’s increased involvement in Syria in recent weeks is likely to further strengthen ISIL, since there was a “clear indication” that Moscow is more interested in defending the Syrian regime than defeating ISIL.

“Already over the past week ISIL has made gains in areas of Aleppo governorate due to the targeting of rival opposition groups and this is likely to continue,” said Mr Henman.

“Civilian deaths in Russian air strikes also give ISIL a powerful propaganda tool.”

The IHS report highlights ISIL activity across the area that it has claimed as its territory, including Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, the North Caucasus and Algeria, in addition to the group’s operational heartland in Iraq and Syria.

The figures reflect the inclusion of Nigeria’s brutal Boko Haram militant group, which declared allegiance to ISIL in March.

Renamed Wilayat Gharb Afriqiyah, the group’s attacks were the deadliest of any ISIL affiliate.

“This underlines the nature of the group’s insurgency in Nigeria and several bordering countries, with its operations characterised by mass-casualty operations targeting the civilian population in the group’s northeast operational heartland,” Mr Henman said.

The new figures also reflect changes in the type of combat over the summer in Iraq and Syria, which still account for the vast majority of ISIL activity.

After capturing some key areas – including the Iraqi city of Ramadi and Syria’s Palmyra earlier this year – the group focused on defending them from government forces and rival insurgent groups.

This meant an increase in “frequent, low-level, close-quarters engagements”, rather than the previous focus on mass-casualty attacks used to seize territory.

Overall, ISIL did not make any major territorial advances during the three-month period, though it did announce a new branch in Saudi Arabia in August.

It has previously announced branches in Afghanistan-Pakistan, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Russia’s North Caucasus and Nigeria, in addition to the group’s operational heartland in Iraq and Syria.

* Agence France-Presse and Associated Press

Published: October 22, 2015 04:00 AM


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