A new UN Security Council report on ISIS once again claims that the group is suffering “setbacks” in Iraq and Syria, but suggests that the group is looking for more countries to expand into as “alternative regions,” with Libya seen as the start of a major move into Africa.
ISIS has a significant presence in Libya, holding key oil regions in the central coast, including the city of Sirte. The report describes ISIS as a “real threat” in Libya, and Security Council officials say the group is raising money selling oil in Libya to fund operations in other countries.
The claims of ISIS losses in Iraq and Syria are likely overstated, however, with regular claims of massive percentages of territory lost depending on arbitrary assignments of control over vast areas of empty desert back and forth.
ISIS is facing new offensives against its city of Fallujah in Iraq and the area north of Raqqa in Syria, but has also been turning the tables in some areas, last month recovering much of the area around Palmyra, and threatening to once again take the city a little over a month after losing it to Syrian troops.
And while the report also presented the ISIS presence in Libya as threatening the rest of Africa, in practice the territory ISIS holds is far from any borders, and apart from occasional attacks in Tunisia, there is not a significant ISIS presence anywhere else on the continent.