Islamic State

Islamic State
الدولة الإسلامية
ad-Dawlah al-Islāmiyah
Also known asIS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh
FounderAbu Musab al-Zarqawi [3]
Dates of operation

Unorganized cells

HeadquartersUnknown (March 2019 – present)
Active regionsTerritoires de l'Etat islamique juin 2015.png
IS territory, in grey, at the time of its greatest territorial extent (May 2015).[36]
Map legend
  •   Islamic State
  •   Syrian government
  •   Lebanese government
  •   Iraqi Kurdistan forces
  • Note: Iraq and Syria contain large desert areas with sparse populations. These areas are mapped as under the control of forces holding roads and towns within them.
Slogan"baqiya wa tatamadad" (Remaining and Expanding)
StatusTerrorist Organization
List of combatant numbers
  • Inside Syria and Iraq:
    • 5,000–10,000[69] (UN Security Council 2019 report)
    • 28,600–31,600[70] (2016 US Defense Department estimate)
    • 200,000[71][72] (2015 claim by Iraqi Kurdistan Chief of Staff)
    • 100,000[73][72] (2015 Jihadist claim)
    • 35,000–100,000[74] (at peak, US State Department estimate)
  • Outside Syria and Iraq: 32,600–57,900 (See Military activity of ISIL for more detailed estimates.)
  • Estimated total: 61,200–257,900
Civilian population
  • In 2015 (near max extent): 8–12 million[75][76]
In 2022 (ISWAP max extent): 3 million[77]
AlliesSee section
OpponentsState opponents

Non-state opponents

Battles and warsIraq War (2003–2011)
Iraqi insurgency
Syrian civil war
War in Iraq
Second Libyan Civil War
Boko Haram insurgency
Insurgency in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
War in Afghanistan
Yemeni Civil War
Other conflicts
Primary target of
Operation Inherent Resolve
Military intervention against IS
American-led intervention in Syria
American-led intervention in Iraq
Egyptian intervention in Libya
Nigerian-led intervention

The Islamic State (IS),[119] also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL; /ˈsɪl/), Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS; /ˈsɪs/),[120][121] and by its Arabic acronym Daesh (داعش, Dāʿish, IPA: [ˈdaːʕɪʃ]),[122] is a militant Islamist group and former unrecognized quasi-state[123] that follows the Salafi jihadist branch of Sunni Islam.[124] It was founded by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in 1999 and gained global prominence in 2014, when it drove Iraqi security forces out of key cities during the Anbar campaign,[125] which was followed by its capture of Mosul[126] and the Sinjar massacre.[127]

Islamic State pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda, and participated in the Iraqi insurgency following the 2003 invasion of Iraq by a multi-national coalition led by the United States. In 2014, the group proclaimed itself to be a worldwide caliphate,[128][129] and began referring to itself as the Islamic State (الدولة الإسلامية, ad-Dawlah al-Islāmiyah).[130] As a caliphate, it claimed religious, political, and military authority over Muslims worldwide.[131] Its adoption of the name "Islamic State" and its idea of a caliphate have been criticised, with the United Nations, various governments, and mainstream Muslim groups rejecting its statehood and legitimacy.[132] In Syria, the group conducted ground attacks against both Syrian government forces and Syrian opposition factions; by the end of 2015, it held an area that contained an estimated eight to twelve million people and stretched from western Iraq to eastern Syria,[75][76][133] where it enforced its interpretation of Islamic law. ISIL was estimated at the time to have an annual budget of more than US$1 billion and more than 30,000 fighters.[134]

In mid-2014, an international military coalition led by the United States intervened against ISIL in Syria as well as in Iraq with an airstrike campaign, in addition to supplying advisors, weapons, training, and supplies to ISIL's enemies in the Iraqi Armed Forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces. This campaign reinvigorated the latter two forces and damaged ISIL, killing tens of thousands of its fighters[135] and reducing its financial and military infrastructure.[136] The American-led intervention was followed by a smaller-scale Russian military intervention exclusively in Syria, in which ISIL lost thousands of more fighters to airstrikes, cruise missile attacks, and other Russian military activities, and had its financial base further degraded.[137] In July 2017, the group lost control of its largest city, Mosul, to the Iraqi military, followed by the loss of its de facto political capital of Raqqa to the Syrian Democratic Forces.[138] By December 2017, IS controlled just 2% of its maximum territory (achieved in May 2015).[139] In December 2017, Iraqi forces had driven the last remnants of the group underground, three years after it had captured about a third of Iraq's territory.[140] By March 2019, IS lost one of their last significant territories in the Middle East in the Deir ez-Zor campaign, and effectively surrendered their "tent city" and pockets in Al-Baghuz Fawqani to the Syrian Democratic Forces after the Battle of Baghuz Fawqani.[35]

The group has been designated as a terrorist organisation by the United Nations. It is well known for its videos of beheadings and other types of executions[141] of both soldiers and civilians, including journalists and aid workers, as well as its destruction of cultural heritage sites.[142] The international community holds IS responsible for committing massive human rights abuses, genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.[143] The group committed genocide against Yazidis and against Christians on a historic scale in northern Iraq and Syria, and systematically persecuted Shia Muslims during its rule.[25][144][145] In October 2019, ISIL media announced that Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi had become the new leader of the group[146] after Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the group's previous leader since 2013, died during an American military operation after detonating his suicide vest in Barisha, Syria.[147][148][149] ISIL has also had a presence outside of the Middle East through its various "provinces" and affiliates,[150] and has had a notable militant presence outside of the Arab world, predominantly in countries with significant or majority Muslim populations such as Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger (West Africa Province); Afghanistan and Pakistan (Khorasan Province); as well as in countries with relatively low Muslim minority populations such as the Philippines (East Asia Province), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Central Africa Province), and the Caucasus states (Caucasus Province).[151]

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