Masthead Weekly 03.15.19
The anti–Islamic State coalition has taken “100 percent” of the terrorist group’s land in Syria, President Donald Trump declared in February. The statement was premature, and despite the fact that it’s likely to come true soon, the staff writer Kathy Gilsinan explains why ISIS isn’t finished quite yet.
What to Know: The Islamic State’s Last Square Mile
By Kathy Gilsinan
What we’re watching: The end of the Islamic State is supposedly at hand—the end of the physical state, at least. It’s actually been at hand for several weeks; the group is now estimated to hold only about a square mile of territory on the Syrian border. The assault on the enclave by U.S.-backed Kurdish forces has stopped and started several times to allow civilians to leave. Just five years ago, ISIS looked like a juggernaut, having erased parts of the Syrian-Iraqi border in its march to seize land for its so-called caliphate, which at one high-end estimate was thought to measure about the size of Great Britain. (Putting a concrete number on this has always been tricky; estimates vary, partly because some of this was sparsely populated desert that no one really holds.)
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