Terrorism & Insurgency

Islamic State territory shrinks by 9.4% in first six months of 2015

28 July 2015

Islamic State performance assessment January - June 2015. Credit: IHS

The Islamic State’s recent successes in Palmyra and Ramadi came at the expense of significant territorial losses elsewhere, leading to an overall reduction in the territory controlled by the Islamic State of 9.4% in the first six months of 2015. The group’s ‘Caliphate’ now spans an estimated 82,940 km2, according to IHS’s definition of territorial dominance.

Advances by rival Sunni insurgents against forces loyal to President Assad are drawing the Islamic State further into western and southern Syria, as it seeks to position itself for a power struggle in the increasingly likely event of the Alawite government withdrawing to the coast. If the Syrian government is defeated, the conflict will become focused on the battle between the Islamic State and rival Sunni factions for control of major cities, such as Damascus, Aleppo and Homs.

Within the Sunni opposition, factions that are arguably the most organised and effective – al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham – share a similar ideology to the Islamic State, and some have stated the same ultimate objective of establishing an Islamic caliphate. Recent attempts by these groups to present themselves in the Western media as more ‘moderate’, and to establish political wings, reflect the necessity to demonstrate they can provide a credible political alternative to President Assad. However, IHS has seen no evidence of a shift away from the groups’ radical Islamist ideology.

The infographic below draws on new advances in data-driven conflict analysis, provided by the IHS Conflict Monitor.

Islamic State performance assessment. Credit: IHSIslamic State performance assessment. Credit: IHS

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