Today marks 2yrs since the territorial defeat of #ISIS's proclaimed 'Caliphate' in #Syria & #Iraq.

Militarily, the group remains engaged in a pre-planned decentralized insurgency, which is sustaining a steady tempo in #Iraq & #SDF areas & a clear *resurgence* in central #Syria.
The D-#ISIS Coalition has done all the right things thus far, but a disinvestment in #Iraq or #Syria would unquestionably benefit #ISIS's long-term plan (which we've seen play out before: 2010-14).

The deviation here is #Assad-held central #Syria -- a zone of deep, deep concern.
As analysts like @GregoryPWaters have shown, #ISIS is engaged in a methodical/sustained resurgence in central Syria -- where pro-#Assad forces have proven incapable of containing, let alone defeating a dispersed desert insurgency.

Tempo/potency/scope are consistently increasing.
@GregoryPWaters Eventually, the vacuum being exploited increasingly effectively by #ISIS in central #Syria is going to spillover into the east & across into #Iraq -- that by now seems inevitable.

It's yet another sign of the consequences of continued #Assad rule & why a U.S. presence is vital.
@GregoryPWaters Beyond the military sphere, the 'elephant in the room' is the 10,000+ #ISIS militant detainees & almost 100,000 associated family members & residents now confined to makeshift prisons & vast detainment camps in northeast #Syria.

This is a gift to #ISIS -- it's as simple as that.
@GregoryPWaters The international community has a collective & individual duty to deal with its respective citizens in #Syria -- abandoning them to an unknown fate or revoking their citizenship is irresponsible & a profoundly detrimental move in what is, at its core, a global battle of ideas.
@GregoryPWaters The #ISIS fight in #Syria & #Iraq is a long way from over, even if our goal is limited to rendering #ISIS into a weak, containable threat.

And crucially, #ISIS doesn't exist in a vacuum -- it feeds on state weakness, sectarianism, ethnic strife & poverty: all of which is *rife.*
@GregoryPWaters And globally, let's set the record straight here: by retaking #Baghouz on March 23, 2019, we didn't defeat #ISIS's Caliphate -- it's now a (1) global, (2) transnational & (3) psychological phenomenon that's expanding far quicker than it's being reversed.

In #Africa it's surging.
@GregoryPWaters While it faced challenges in #Syria/#Iraq, #ISIS was sowing seeds in conflict theaters worldwide & even inserting itself into some that had no previous Islamist or global jihadist agenda.

That "localization" is *the* preeminent trend in jihadism today & we're losing that fight.
@GregoryPWaters Later this year, the U.S. will mark 20yrs since the 9/11 attacks -- and as we'll do so, we'll need to acknowledge a hard truth: that the terror threats we face today in 2021 are greater in number, more diverse in scope, & more potentially potent than at any time since 2001.
@GregoryPWaters In 20yrs, the U.S. has got very good at killing problems, but we've learned next to nothing about resolving the root causes & drivers of jihadist #terrorism & militancy -- it's not about 'defeating the ideology' (absurd), the issues are local, social, political, economic etc.
@GregoryPWaters This troubling reality means the 'fight' against terrorism has a long way to go -- the terrorists are learning & adapting faster than we are.

Along with @CTCWP & @CNSFordhamLaw, @MEI_CTE will be studying the next wave of terrorism & how to defeat it:…
@GregoryPWaters @CTCWP @CNSFordhamLaw @MEI_CTE This very timely @MEI_CTE event is today -- in about 90mins.

Make sure to RSVP or watch the livestream on the @MiddleEastInst event page.
@GregoryPWaters @CTCWP @CNSFordhamLaw @MEI_CTE @MiddleEastInst This 10-tweet thread by @Mister__Q_ does a superb job of laying out what #ISIS has become since it's "territorial defeat" in #Syria & #Iraq 2yrs ago:.

In short -- 5,795 attacks in 31 countries & a big surge in #Africa.

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More from @Charles_Lister

25 Mar
Exclusive -- the March 21 attack on the @UN-deconflicted al-Atareb hospital in NW #Syria involved the use of #Russian "Krasnopol" laser-guided artillery shells, guided precisely to their target by a Russian UAV.

Extensive analysis of munition debris shows a direct correlation. ImageImageImage
@UN Shortly after the attack, doctors & rescue workers began recovering remnants of the shells that hit al-Atareb hospital.

In addition to the usual metal shrapnel, they found circuit boards -- a tell-tale sign of precision-guidance tech, in this case, in artillery shells. ImageImageImageImage
@UN That piqued my interest & in the days since, employees of al-Atareb hospital (associated with @sams_usa) gathered all the shell debris, removed it to a safe site & photographed it for analysis.

It soon became clear we were looking at *certain* evidence of Krasnopol munitions. ImageImageImageImage
Read 9 tweets
23 Mar
CC'ing Jan Egeland (@NRC_Egeland) here -- the chair of @antonioguterres's "Senior Advisory Panel" investigating the @UN's "deconfliction" mechanism intended to protect hospitals in #Syria.

The council reports to the UN SG in May.
@NRC_Egeland @antonioguterres @UN Shortly after the #SAA artillery strike on the al-Atareb hospital, rescue workers discovered remnants of the shells, which contained circuit boards -- this is an unusual detail that *could* indicate that the munitions were laser-guided & newly provided by #Russia. Image
@NRC_Egeland @antonioguterres @UN #Russia has deployed 2K25 Krasnopol guided munitions from #Khmeymim AB, so we know they're in #Syria already -- but whether they're fired by #SAA is another matter.

Either way, it could also indicate the #Russia drone was acting as the laser designator -- marking the target. Image
Read 4 tweets
3 Feb
This is great by @jeromedrev & @patrickhaenni -- #HTS has come to represent something uniquely challenging.

After violently achieving domination (vs. #FSA, #AQ & #ISIS), it's now pursuing a policy of "gradual opening & mainstreamisation," giving concessions & seeking acceptance.
@jeromedrev @patrickhaenni The U.S, #Europe & #Turkey should press #HTS to address concerns & "define clear benchmarks which (if met) could enable HTS to shed its “terrorist” label," argue @dkhalifa & @NoahBonsey.

Doing so would symbolize a new diplomacy+military approach to CT.…
@jeromedrev @patrickhaenni @dkhalifa @NoahBonsey Following yesterday's public revelation of #HTS hosting @FrontlinePBS (& others) in #Idlib, my thread below details how the former #AlQaeda affiliate has adapted in recent yrs & created new realities & challenges/dilemmas we'll have to deal w. eventually:

Read 4 tweets
2 Feb
Very, very interesting.

#HTS & its leader Abu Mohammed al-Jolani have just finished hosting @frontlinepbs's @Martin28Smith in #Idlib for 3 days.

How times change -- quite a difference from 2014/15.
@frontlinepbs @Martin28Smith #pt: It's no secret that #HTS has been pushing hard behind-the-scenes for opportunities to improve its image abroad -- first in outreach to researchers/institutes & more recently giving top access to highly-regarded media outlets.

And fwiw, PBS is one of several.
@frontlinepbs @Martin28Smith #pt: That #HTS is pushing this shouldn't come as a surprise -- the ingredients were put in place as far back as 2015, when a prolonged internal debate regarding the right path for Jabhat al-Nusra began. Clerical "lobby groups" got involved & then #JFS was created; then #HTS.
Read 15 tweets
1 Feb
#Syria's regime appears to be facing a sharp increase in public criticism from across its population - people are exasperated at rife corruption & incompetence.

In lieu of this, secret police have been behind a spate of arrests targeting prominent critics, many of them #Alawite.
#pt: While some observers in the West [inaccurately] attribute #Syria's deep economic crisis to sanctions, #Assad's "loyalist critics" don't appear to be convinced -- they've been laying the blame squarely at the regime & parliament's doorsteps.

i.e. the propaganda is faltering.
#pt: No matter where you look in #Assad-held areas, the regime is clearly unable to provide, govern, secure or stabilize.

For the many Syrians who've stood by the regime since '11, their sacrificed 'blood & treasure' appear to have been merely for Bashar -- no reciprocal award.
Read 17 tweets
21 Jan
Prioritizing or re-energizing diplomacy on #Syria policy does not necessitate ceding leverage & bestowing concessions to a criminal regime.

If pressure has failed to secure regime compromise, granting it breathing space certainly isn't -- it'll facilitate accelerated repression.
To wrest back 2/3 of #Syria under his control, #Assad 'burned the country' & 'cleansed his population' (his words).

That consequences of that scorched earth policy are now coming clear: a wrecked economy, broken society, crumbling state, rife corruption, warlordism & terrorism.
US & EU sanctions are not the cause of the collapse of the SYP, nor the existence of warlords, corrupt elite or an eroding middle class -- that's the result of #Assad's 10yrs of uncompromising, all-out war on his own people/country.

Removing sanctions is not some magic solution.
Read 10 tweets

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