The defeat of ISIS in what was described as their “last stronghold” in Syria last week appears to have been wildly premature, with indications that the Shi’ite forces who helped te Syrian military take the city have been routed and expelled from Abu Kamal in subsequent fighting.
Indeed, it appears ISIS never really left the town, the main border crossing between Syria and Iraq. Many of the ISIS defenders took to tunnels in the town, and when ISIS launched a counterattack from without, they also launched ambushes from within.
Abu Kamal appears to have wholly fallen back to ISIS at this point, with the militias fleeing to neighboring villages. Ironically, these were the villages being targeted by Syrian forces over the weekend, meaning the fighters aren’t likely to be very welcome.
This will certainly make the town the main priority target for Syrian forces in the east again, but ISIS has proven itself increasingly resilient, and with little other territory to defend, they can commit substantial forces to defense and counter-attack.
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