Official estimates about ISIS’ size at any given time are always fraught with uncertainty, as evidenced by US officials claiming death tolls already far beyond what ISIS was ever believed to have had in the first place. The most recent estimate for Iraq is particularly interesting however, coming amid official Iraqi declarations of “victory.”
Far from having expelled ISIS from Iraq, as suggested by the lack of territory still under direct ISIS rule, officials say that ISIS is believed to still have some 7,000 fighters in Iraq alone, with similar figures still left in Syria, where they still hold a lot of territory along the border.
It’s going to be even harder to do anything about those 7,000 fighters specifically because ISIS doesn’t have a big city where most of them are hanging out anymore. As the group returns to insurgency tactics, the fighters will be increasingly spread out in small cells around the country, plotting attacks.
For an insurgency, that’s a pretty big one, as before this recent war where ISIS started amassing territory, they were never estimated to be this big. Now that the fight over territory is over, at least for now, the insurgency is still big, and dangerous.