Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 08, 2015

The Islamic State Is In Retreat

The Islamic State is in retreat. It has lost several towns in north Iraq to the Kurdish Peshmerga. It is under attack in central and west Iraq from Iraqi security forces and militia. In Syria U.S. air attacks and the supported Kurdish YPG forces defended (and destroyed) Kobani and IS had to give up its plans to capture that border route to Turkey. The Kurdish forces have now pushed the Islamic State away from some 75 settlements and towns in the Kobani area.

At the same time as the much published attack on Kobani happened the Islamic State tried to capture the city of Deir Ezzor in east Syria and the important Syrian air force base next to it. For a few days it looked like the air base would fall but air support from the Syrian air force and powerful counterattacks have relieved the air base and the city is at least partially back under Syrian army control.

In last two days the Islamic State left several areas in central and west Syria. It is giving up positions it had fought for, now passing them back to local Islamist or warlord forces it had earlier kicked out of their positions. It is likely that this move has two reasons. The Islamic State can no longer supply its forces in west and center Syria and it needs to concentrate its forces for the defense of the core areas it still holds - Mosul and Fallujah in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria.

The Islamic State is under aerial attack from Syrian, U.S. and now also again from Jordan forces. While these attacks are not as intense as they could be they do destroy and kill enough material and people to make the movement of Islamic State fighters difficult.

The Pentagon claims (take with lots of salt) that it damaged or destroyed 3,222 Islamic State targets since August including 58 tanks; 184 Humvees; 673 fighting positions; 980 buildings or barracks; 26 APCs vehicles; 303 technical vehicles; 94 other vehicles; 79 artillery, anti-aircraft weapons or mortars; 41 staging areas; 11 improvised explosive device positions; 16 command posts; 92 checkpoints; 17 guard shacks; 52 bunkers; 14 boats; 23 stockpiles; 259 oil infrastructure sites. According to the head of the Royal Jordanian Air Force the Islamic State has in total lost 20% of its military capabilities. I believe that the damage rate is higher than 20% with regard to heavy weapons like tanks which are easy to kill from the air and lower with regard to IS men under arms. The Islamic State has lots of infantry as it can recruit from several million people under its rule but it has only a very limited capability to replace material losses.

In the last two days the Islamic State gave up some 15 villages in Al-Qamishli district in eastern Syria. It offered the Al-Bab border crossing with Turkey in northeast Aleppo governate and the Qweiris military airport east of Aleppo to the local Islamist group Jamat Ansar-eddine. It pulled its forces out of Jarabulus next to Turkey and out of Ayn Issa and Sarrin. All these positions were on the most northern and most western positions in Syria under Islamic State control. These are all quite strategic positions but the Islamic State no longer has the resources to hold onto them. It had paid quite some blood to gain these position but now has to give them up without a fight.

All these moves may be because IS wants to consolidate and concentrate forces for a new attack against maybe Jordan or Saudi Arabia but my hunch is that its material capabilities are now in serious decline and that the Islamic State is no longer able to project and supply large forces and heavy equipment over longer distances.

Posted by b on February 8, 2015 at 18:20 UTC | Permalink


saudi arabia/usa didn't want their monster to come back and bite them in the ass.. certainly was good for a wave of destruction away from where the donors live..

Posted by: james | Feb 8 2015 20:43 utc | 1

' In Syria U.S. air attacks and the supported Kurdish YPG forces defended (and destroyed) Kobani ... '

The US continues to lay waste Iraq, twelve years later, and now Syria as well. I see talk about sending US forces to Mosul. The Nihilist Nobel Peace Prize Laureate has hit upon the right combination ... with 'his' Nobel Peace Prize at its foundation. War is A-OK with us Americans, you just have to spin it properly, create the 'right-sort' of enemies to destroy.

And it makes no difference anyway ... neither Bush nor Obama were ever even slowed down in their murderous pursuit of devastation and destruction by any popular reaction ... even when there was one.

Posted by: jfl | Feb 8 2015 20:56 utc | 2

IS is not a long term proposition, theirs is not a strategy, it is a Facebook fad, a YouTube morbid side, a delusion fed by social networks. They will run around with their "caliphate" for as long as they can keep open a supply corridor to the Wahabbis, then jumped to the next hot spot and start yet another caliphate...for the Masters of the Empire of Chaos.

Posted by: Long Wolf | Feb 8 2015 22:14 utc | 3

From a purely military skill point of view IS has been a 'one trick pony' (at the moment).

Very fast mobility created surprise and havok against poorly prepared (and led) opposing troops.
It now has a huge area that has to be consolidated, defended and held.

It never really exhibited the ability to take a well defended 'sticky' target and has shown itself poor in solid defence against determined attack.

That combined with physical overstretch meant it had to slow down eventually, which it has and is now suffering some reversals.

However, giving up territory may not be such a good thing in the longer term, it may be that IS is just learning and improving its tactics and strategy. Better to give up the indefensible wthout losses now and plan to take them back later, than suffer pointless losses.

So early days yet, there is a heck of a long way to go before these monsters are eliminated.

Posted by: Lisa | Feb 8 2015 22:59 utc | 4

Posted by: jfl | Feb 8, 2015 3:56:36 PM | 2

Me too. IS isn't famous for its well-funded and efficient construction programs so 'beating' them by "destroying 980 buildings or barracks & 259 oil infrastructure sites" does more harm to the entity which built them than to IS, and is as American as IS's overeach for which IS is now (apparently) paying the price.
Why is everything about the Fake War on Terror so blatantly and predictably fraudulent?

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 8 2015 23:04 utc | 5

@5 Fascists aren't creative by their very nature. They can only appropriate the past.

Posted by: NotTimothyGeithner | Feb 8 2015 23:19 utc | 6

Turkey, a NATO member, could easily put a stop to fresh IS recruits and equipment arriving and to the sale of oil to finance IS's warfare/terrorism. The fact that there seems very little pressure being put on them to do so proves that the U.S. is quite happy with the destruction they are causing, and a few missions (mainly for show)to stop them getting too big for their boots while still sowing death and destruction in Syria and Iraq suits the Empire of Chaos just fine.

Posted by: Ffidel Bennett | Feb 8 2015 23:42 utc | 7

I just have a gut feeling that this is a 'moment of vulnerability' for IS, that will probably close over time. IS has shown the ability to learn and is maybe (?) trying to get its strategic act together, I suspect its great past 'wins' came as a big a shock to it as it did for everyone else.

A good military and political strategy, with well led, trained and experienced troops (which excludes everyone except the Iranians and Syrians) could probabaly roll it back a heck of a lot pretty quickly.

But the political 'backers' (US, Turkey, Saudi, etc) have zero wish for that to happen so this 'moment' will probably pass as a lost opportunity.

I suspect that if IS got politically 'clever' (a skill that it is glaringly lacking in at the moment)then it could cut a deal, which would leave it with what it has got in Iraq on the promise of not attacking the Kurds and concentrating on Syria (later on the Caucus). If it did that then I also suspect that attacks on it would end and the money and equipment spigot would open widely. Heck we'd probably re-write them as the new 'moderates' attacking that 'monster' Assad.....

So it is all in play at the moment, with very uncertain outcomes. We know the visible players at the moment (US, Israel, Turkey, Saudi, Jorden, Syria, Iran, Iraq, etc) , but there are the (currently) invisible ones (Russia and China), the long term outcome will depend, in not a small way, on how their efforts to 'control', 'channel', hold, destroy (etc) IS succeed.

Personally I think the key player at the moment is Turkey. If they can give up their 'wet dreams' of IS killing all the Kurds, then taking over all of Syria, then meekly standing back to let Turkey grab it (as if), then IS's time would be limited. A (say) Russian brokered deal between Turkey and Syria would be a game changer, however Edrogen would have to go to achieve that.

Posted by: Lisa | Feb 8 2015 23:51 utc | 8

Jordan says it has carried out 56 air strikes in three days on Islamic State logistics sites and hideouts.

"We achieved what we aimed at," Air Force chief Gen Mansour al-Jbour said.

Jordan intensified its strikes after captured pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh was shown being burned alive by IS.

Jordan has carried out nearly 20% of all sorties by the US-led coalition against IS in Syria so far, Gen Jbour said, adding: "We are determined to wipe them from the face of the Earth."

Posted by: okie farmer | Feb 8 2015 23:53 utc | 9


Indeed...the absence of robust pressure applied to close Turkey's doorway of opportunity for IS recruits' transit into Syria is akin to a surgeon snipping at the edges of a malignant tumor and leaving it's core intact.

Posted by: BSA | Feb 9 2015 0:05 utc | 10

ISIS is suffering for a lack of cash. Panicking, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE have stopped allowing funds to be send to ISIS and have asked Jordan to bomb them as much as they can.
Having lost the support of Saudi Arabia, ISIS cannot count anymore on free lunch from Turkey. It is now stuck in the areas close to Iraq. It counts on support from the 'unhappy' Iraqi sunnis. These have also dwindled, so ISIS will resort to their speciality, IEDs and suicide bombs on cities to spread terror. On the suicide bomb map the first city in line is Amman

Posted by: Virgile | Feb 9 2015 0:35 utc | 11

ISIS is funded by and it serves the needs of the US/UK/Israeli nexus in these ways and more:

Provides fresh Media Boogieman (to replace AQ) for scare tactics to keep Public on board with continue war/looting.

Depopulates Region - expands Israel per Yinon Plan.

Keeps focus off Yinon Plan. Israel continues expansion in WB and Gaza.

Prevents development of competitive oil/gas pipelines by Syria and Iran.

Can be controlled by defunding and Aerial Bombardment quickly.

Posted by: fast freddy | Feb 9 2015 0:43 utc | 12

I think it has to do with the collapse of oil price, it's hurting IS's finances

Posted by: meofios | Feb 9 2015 2:06 utc | 13

IRBIL, Iraq — The 22-minute video released Tuesday by the Islamic State depicting the brutal death by immolation of a captured Jordanian pilot includes a long and detailed account by Lt. Moaz al Kasasbeh of his last mission as well as a general outline of the contributions of Arab countries to the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition.

In the video, Kasasbeh said he ejected from his aircraft over Raqqa, Syria, after it was hit by anti-aircraft fire, disabling his F-16’s single engine. That detail contradicts American statements at the time, which said there was no evidence his plane had been shot down.

Read more here:

Posted by: okie farmer | Feb 9 2015 2:15 utc | 14

My goodness, at this rate, they'll never get strong enough to attack Israel.

Posted by: guest77 | Feb 9 2015 2:16 utc | 15

I just saw an article: "ISIS Defenses in Mosul Cause US to Ponder Ground Forces". As ISIS is being beaten back and US moral bankruptcy has got it twisted into ridiculous position where it is "fighting" both sides in the Syrian War, it seems clear that the US, though still grasping at straws, may have failed to achieve its primary goal of inerting it ground troops back into Iraq.

It becomes more and more clear with each passing day the coalition that most frightens the US/Israel/Saudi axis - the powers of the so-called Shia Crescent - will be able to defeat ISIS by themselves. And that is a victory that will turn the entire region between Lebanon and Tehran into a solid bloc allied with Russia and China. The battle will have brought the Kurds too onto the side of Russia and China - two powers whom the Kurds know can be far more honest brokers in their fate than the Turkish-allied United States.

The US is now desperate to insert themselves into the picture because they are about to watch their "little reason" for getting back into Iraq (ISIS) squashed by the very bloc they've always been trying to edge out of the Arab world since 1991 - Russia, China, and Iran.

Meanwhile, in the US, the old propaganda still reigns. I saw a supposed "Anonymous" Twitter account just today saying: "Don't forget the FSA, fighting both Bashaar's Army and ISIS". I had to laugh. Do US citizens still believe in fairy tale of the FSA? Do they really still believe in the Arab Spring? That's the real danger in all of this - Americans, in their deep and deadly ignorance, may well fall for whatever trick will be pulled to make the case for sending ground troops back into Iraq.

Posted by: guest77 | Feb 9 2015 2:58 utc | 16

@ 16: "Americans, in their deep and deadly ignorance"

Apologies for the edit, but that snippet you can count on.

Posted by: ben | Feb 9 2015 3:19 utc | 17

It may be a bit premature to jump to conclusions about the ebb and flow of this conflict. A few weeks ago the USG announced that the Iraqi Army had recovered 1% of the territory lost to the IS even with the ongoing air war.

The US Polemarch John Allen announced a new ground offensive by the Iraqi Army in the next few weeks and when that begins we may see what their capabilities actually are, the earlier offensives were not very successful.

The Kurds may have retaken Kobani but what they have is a blasted ruins, thanks to the US.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Feb 9 2015 3:49 utc | 18

I was waiting for the ISIS cheerleader to come make his case.

Posted by: guest77 | Feb 9 2015 4:18 utc | 19


Don't forget the $5B or $8B looted from American taxpayers McCain purloined when he made his covert trip through Israel into Syria to arm and fund Al Nusra AQ and The Caliph ISIS last July, and then the $100Ms per day in old munitions, armor, airplanes destroyed in the false flag op that must be re-procured. So all in all, it was a very productive operation. Hey, think I heard a little 'chi-ching' peal from the HSBC church bells just then.

Mossads grow up in Isreal surrounded by Arabs who are 50% of the population. Mossads speak both fluent Hebrew and fluent localized Arabic. With a few postings to safe banking FOBs in other Arab countries, a Mossad operative is easily able to pass as an Arab, say a 'radical' insurgent speaker, who carefully picks hisher assets, grooms them for positions as leaders, then by favor of having eavesdropped on every communication in the neighborhood, merely has to 'lead the psy-target' by a very little bit.

They pick up the rumors and agitations, then push them in the direction of agitprop, just the same way the hippie movement and OWS were infiltrated and co-opted. It's an old game.
Someone puts some money down, the $000s show up in Mossad's account, then it's 'go time'.

They don't care. They'll busy opening up Special Discount Free Trade Zones with Iran and Russia at this very moment, selling arms with the origin burned off through IEH traders, and no doubt, back through Iranian and Russian oligarch mafia networks. At any moment in time there is literally $BILLIONS in hot money flying back and forth above MENA for this.

$2,300 BILLION went AWOL under Rumsfeld. $1,000 BILLION went missing on Panetta's watch, and he promised a Defense audit!! Hagel bugged out as soon as he say what was going down.

There's a black hole in the bucket, the size of Manhattan, and the blood and treasure of Middle America is pouring through it. We are all the way back to Isaiah 1-666, and to Nevi'im, 1st and 2nd Kings, only this time it will be US that are conquered and exiled, within our own lands, auctioned off online to the highest bidder, then sealed in a small hole, while they collect our SS benefits check and what remains of our estate.

I'm speaking allegorically, of course. Pharmacological strait jackets only appear to be small holes. Your body and brain are still there, smiling and drooling at the auditors. Once our SSTF and passbook savings are looted by the Chosen and Mil.Gov.Sci.Edu drones, we'll all skip happily on the way to the crematorium, the one marked "Kleine Menschen".

Posted by: ChipNikh | Feb 9 2015 9:33 utc | 20

It's a useless and foolish exercise to characterize every ebb & flow as an entrenched trend with some form of finality at the the end of the rainbow. The Islamic State isn't going away anytime soon.

It's Only Just Begun

Posted by: Cold N. Holefield | Feb 9 2015 13:21 utc | 21

News from Reuters - 40 minutes ago.

Islamic State pulls forces and hardware from Syria's Aleppo: rebels

Islamic State has withdrawn some of its insurgents and equipment from areas northeast of the Syrian city of Aleppo, rebels and residents say, adding to signs of strain in the Syrian provinces of its self-declared caliphate.

That is only some 24 hours later than me reporting that news.

Posted by: b | Feb 9 2015 15:38 utc | 22


Thanks I needs a good laugh this morning and your Fractured Fairytale supplied it.

Do you even know what or who the "Hippies" were?

White European Mossad agents passing as Arab radicals, that is just ludicrous.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Feb 9 2015 15:38 utc | 23

ISIS needs to conquer new territory to get new weapon supplies. Yes, ISIS is most definitely in decline.

Posted by: Willy2 | Feb 9 2015 17:31 utc | 24

"Sunni force unlikely to challenge the Islamic State

IHS Jane's Intelligence Review
08 February 2015

* Jabhat al-Nusra is uniting Syria's Sunni opposition around it by championing the struggle against President Bashar al-Assad.
* This Sunni opposition is becoming increasingly radicalised, in line with Jabhat al-Nusra's long-term vision of creating its own caliphate.
* The United States' effort to create a Sunni force to challenge the Islamic State in Syria is very unlikely to succeed in 2015.

US president Barack Obama has made significant cuts to funding for select 'moderate' insurgent groups in Syria that Washington had been supporting with weapons and training, according to a US media report on 27 January. Support for some Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups has been abandoned completely, while salary payments to others have been scaled back by up to 50%.

Posted by: Virgile | Feb 9 2015 20:05 utc | 25

How about sephardic,iraqui, moroccan, yemeni, ethiopian, mizrachim-egyptian jews?
They are dark enough and many come from arab speaking back-grounds.
The Ashkenazis may be as blonde and as nordic looking as they wish but Chipni knows his shit and it would not be beyond Mossad infiltrating and agitating the perpetrators.
Them that hippies were so thoroughly infiltrated that they were pretty much a government agency.

Posted by: Fernando | Feb 9 2015 21:23 utc | 26


Israel has access to many Arabs of different sects who will sell out for many reasons as we have seen in Hamas and Hezbollah. I was mocking the idea that an Israeli Mossad agent could pass as a radical Islamist.

I know it is ancient history but you are under the false impression that all longhairs in the '60s were Hippies. The Reactionaries and the Squares lumped any young student or radical under this derogatory term to discredit them and their causes. The radical resistance groups were infiltrated but they weren't Hippies.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Feb 9 2015 22:12 utc | 27

Lack of cash? what about all the money from all those banks they robbed during their initial 'expansion'? what about all the taxes they are extorting from the faithful in every city they rule and the property of everyone they execute, or receive in exchange for not executing them?

I would think money would be the least of their worries. In a theocracy you need less money than other forms of govt. What do they need cash for? I'm not joking - do they pay their soldiers or do they just give them food, a bed, and weapons? aren't the soldiers volunteers for Allah's perfect society? Do you think they pay market prices for all the locally produced food, clothing, etc.? When they can just expropriate it in the name of the jihad?

If they really feel they need to look legitimate (to their own people) then all they need to do to buy food and supplies and services from inside the 'caliphate' is to find a supporter to give them a printing press - then just print up war-time chits, proclaim them to be legitimate instruments of exchange, and state that anyone who refuses to take them are takfiri bastards who deserve to be publicly executed. Examples of occupying powers issuing such chits are numerous.

I imagine their biggest expense internally that takes real money would be bribery.
Certainly they need cash for external purchases, mostly weapons, ammo, and medicine. But they will avoid buying anything with hard cash when they can beg it from supporters, steal it, or capture it. Until they consolidate their 'state' and enter a condition of political equilibrium and normality they won't really need much in the way of money internally.

Or am I just an amateur economist with his head up his butt?

Posted by: sillybill | Feb 9 2015 23:06 utc | 28

Coming up tomorrow on BBC's News Hour: Jeremy Bowen's interview with Bashar Assad.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Feb 10 2015 0:52 utc | 29

It appears that the fake terror PSYOP that is branded...IS or ISIS is beginning to lose ground and it's brand fierceness at the same time! This sort of slip in the ratings calls for more extreme video PR such as live immolations.
If it is true that the foreign funding is shrivelling up, then these turkeys (pun intended!) will be re-deployed back to their adopted nations (the 'west') and into more cost effective, cheapy-cheap small 'terror cells' designed to stir up trouble back home, and/or for political currency when needed.
These zombies will be gone from Syria after the end of the next US presidential election.
Makes you wonder why UNZ consistently runs such obvious attempts at either 'humanizing' or pumping up the power and virtues of these inept primates.
Is this the best the CIA can do - homicidal/suicidal buzzed-up underage losers hiding behind beards, shouting religious cut and paste? They've always been sleazy and lazy, now they're just hopelessly incompetent.

Posted by: spinworthy | Feb 10 2015 1:36 utc | 30


Doonesbury with a hint of hunter s are on the nail just off target.....Jeb bush is the man

Posted by: mcohen | Feb 10 2015 8:29 utc | 31

Putin disclosed in an interview with Al-Ahram newspaper today that Moscow and Cairo are discussing the nitty-gritty of shifting to the use of their national currencies so as to exclude the US dollar for settlement of accounts with a view to “reduce dependence on the current trends in the world markets.” In sum, Egypt is moving into a select circle of Moscow’s strategic partners

Posted by: Mina | Feb 10 2015 11:26 utc | 32

IS is the best guarantee no one will ask for regime change in KSA/Qatar/Kuwait/Bahrein

Posted by: Mina | Feb 10 2015 13:40 utc | 33

If so much equipment is destroyed , where do they get replacements ? Off eBay ?

Posted by: Brian | Feb 15 2015 12:46 utc | 34

The comments to this entry are closed.