, 14 tweets, 7 min read
Some general observations about #IS’s response to #Turkey's incursion into #Syria:
1. ON TACTICS: #IS appears to have reactivated its covert cells in NE #Syria, having put them (mostly) on a back-burner since the second “raid of attrition” in early August.
2. Since #Trump’s volte face, #IS cells have been engaging in unusually impactful, costly & daring ops. An inghimasi op in #Raqqa; a major car bombing in #Qamishli; accelerated assassinations throughout the northeast—this is *not* business as usual.
3. Critically, while #IS supporters have largely welcomed #Turkey’s campaign (some enthusiastically but most only tentatively), #IS itself has not commented on the matter, aside from a brief note on the second-last page of its newspaper.
4. Instead, this week’s uptick in #IS activity has been framed as retaliation for the “escalating” ills through which its (female) supporters are suffering in #SDF-run camps. There’s been no substantive mention of #Turkey.
5. I don’t expect #IS’s silence will last for long. Keep an eye out for something in next week’s al-Naba’ editorial. A statement from #Muhajir wouldn’t come as a surprise either.
6. ON PRISONS (where fighters are being held): These are a priority right now. If #IS were able to facilitate a breakout, it could pick up an entire battalion of fighters just like that. However, this is easier said than done.
7. For maximum strategic effect, jailbreaks need serious planning; they should be intel-led with an immediate off-ramp in place to facilitate passage of detainees back to ground. It’s no good freeing 1000s of your best fighters only to have them killed in a clean-up op.
8. Hence, #IS is unlikely to make a serious move on the prisons until it’s confident it has the right preparations in place. A concerted effort would probably involve bomb(er)s, inghimasiyyin & conventional forces (probably with vehicles).
9. ON THE CAMPS (where IDPs, mainly women/kids, are being held): While important to #IS, these are a lesser priority right now (contrary to its public messaging). That being said, at some point when the time is right there’ll likely be some sort of op to break into/out of al Hol.
10. #Baghdadi called for this very explicitly in his last speech, so if no efforts were made at all it’d be egg on his face. #Baghdadi wouldn’t look good with egg on his face, so I’m guessing some sort of plan is in the pipeline.
11. That said, #IS probably isn’t in any big rush. The prisons are the strategic priority right now. And besides, it’s conceivable that al Hol will be coopted from within by #IS supporters any way. If the tinderbox is already alight, there may be no need for outside intervention.
12. Basically, it’s not great news.
(Usual caveats apply: this is all (reasoned) speculation and could turn out to be wrong.)
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