Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
الدولة الإسلامية في العراق والشام
ad-Dawlah al-Islāmiyah fī 'l-ʿIrāq wa-sh-Shām
Participant in the Iraq War (2003–2011), the Iraqi insurgency, the Syrian Civil War, the Iraqi Civil War, the Second Libyan Civil War, the Boko Haram insurgency, the War in North-West Pakistan, the War in Afghanistan, the Yemeni Civil War, and other conflicts
Primary target of Operation Inherent Resolve and of the military intervention against ISIL in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Nigeria
The Black Standard used by ISIL[1]
The seal of ISIL[2][3][4]
Active
Ideology
Group(s)
Leaders
Headquarters
Area of operationsTerritoires de l'Etat islamique juin 2015.png
ISIL's territory, in grey, at the time of its greatest territorial extent (May 2015).
Size
AlliesSee section
Opponent(s)State opponents

Non-state opponents

Full list...
Originated as
Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (1999)[85]

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL l/), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS s/),[86] officially known as the Islamic State (IS) and also known by its Arabic-language acronym Daesh (Arabic: داعش‎, romanized: Dāʿish, IPA: [ˈdaːʕɪʃ]),[87][88] is a terrorist militant group and a former unrecognised proto-state[89] that follows a fundamentalist, Salafi jihadist doctrine of Sunni Islam.[90][91] ISIL gained global prominence in early 2014 when it drove Iraqi government forces out of key cities in its Western Iraq offensive,[92] followed by its capture of Mosul[93] and the Sinjar massacre.[94]

The group has been designated a terrorist organisation by the United Nations as well as by many international organisations and individual countries. ISIL is widely known for its videos of beheadings and other types of executions[95] of both soldiers and civilians, including journalists and aid workers, and its destruction of cultural heritage sites.[96] The United Nations holds ISIL responsible for committing human rights abuses, genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.[97] ISIL also committed ethnic cleansing on a historic and unprecedented scale in northern Iraq.[98]

ISIL originated as Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad in 1999, which pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda and participated in the Iraqi insurgency following the 2003 invasion of Iraq by Western forces at the behest of the United States. In June 2014, the group proclaimed itself a worldwide caliphate[99][100] and began referring to itself as the Islamic State (الدولة الإسلامية ad-Dawlah al-Islāmiyah; IS).[101] As a caliphate, it claimed religious, political, and military authority over all Muslims worldwide.[102] Its adoption of the name Islamic State and its idea of a caliphate have been widely criticised, with the United Nations, various governments, and mainstream Muslim groups vehemently rejecting its statehood.[103]

In Syria, the group conducted ground attacks on both government forces and opposition factions, and by December 2015, it held a large area extending from western Iraq to eastern Syria, containing an estimated 8 to 12 million people,[53][104][54] where it enforced its interpretation of sharia law. ISIL is believed to be operational in 18 countries across the world, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, with "aspiring branches" in Mali, Egypt, Somalia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and the Philippines.[105][106][107][108] In 2015, ISIL was estimated to have an annual budget of more than US$1 billion and a force of more than 30,000 fighters.[109]

In mid-2014, an international coalition led by the United States intervened against ISIL in Syria and Iraq with a massive airstrike campaign, in addition to supplying advisors, weapons, training, and supplies to ISIL's enemies in the Iraqi Security Forces and Syrian Democratic Forces. This campaign reinvigorated the latter two forces and dealt a huge blow to the nascent Islamist proto-state, killing tens of thousands of ISIL troops[110] and dealing significant damage to their financial and military infrastructure.[111] This was soon followed by a smaller-scale Russian intervention exclusively in Syria, in which ISIL lost thousands more fighters to airstrikes and other Russian military activities and had its financial base even further degraded.[112] In July 2017, the group lost control of its largest city, Mosul, to the Iraqi army, followed by the loss of its de facto political capital of Raqqa to the Syrian Democratic Forces.[113] Following these major defeats, ISIL continued to lose territory to the various states and other military forces allied against it, until it controlled no meaningful territory by November 2017.[114] US military officials and simultaneous military analyses reported in December 2017 that the group retained a mere 2 percent of the territory they had previously held.[115] On 10 December 2017, Iraq's Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, said that Iraqi forces had driven the last remnants of the Islamic State from the country, three years after the militant group captured about a third of Iraq's territory.[116] By 23 March 2019, ISIL lost one of their last significant territories in the Middle East in the Deir ez-Zor campaign, surrendering their "tent city" and pockets in Al-Baghuz Fawqani to the Syrian Democratic Forces at the end of the Battle of Baghuz Fawqani.[47]

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIL since 2013, later killed himself by detonating a suicide vest during a raid into the rebel-held Idlib province of Syria[117] conducted by U.S. special forces on 27 October 2019.[118][119][120][121] On 31 October, ISIL media announced Abu Ibrahim al Hashimi al-Qurayshi to be Baghdadi's successor.[122]

Name

In April 2013, having expanded into Syria, the group adopted the name ad-Dawlah al-Islāmiyah fī 'l-ʿIrāq wa-sh-Shām (الدولة الإسلامية في العراق والشام‎). As al-Shām is a region often compared with the Levant or Greater Syria, the group's name has been variously translated as "Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham",[123] "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria"[124] (both abbreviated as ISIS), or "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (abbreviated as ISIL).[86]

While the use of either one or the other acronym has been the subject of debate,[86][125] the distinction between the two and its relevance has been considered not so great.[86] Of greater relevance is the name Daesh, which is an acronym of ISIL's Arabic name al-Dawlah al-Islamīyah fī l-ʻIrāq wa-sh-Shām. Dāʿish (داعش‎), or Daesh. This name has been widely used by ISIL's Arabic-speaking detractors,[clarification needed][126][127] although – and to a certain extent because – it is considered derogatory, as it resembles the Arabic words Daes ("one who crushes, or tramples down, something underfoot") and Dāhis (loosely translated: "one who sows discord").[87][128] Within areas under its control, ISIL considers use of the name Daesh punishable by flogging[129] or cutting out the tongue.[130]

In late June 2014, the group renamed itself ad-Dawlah al-Islāmiyah (lit. Islamic State or IS), declaring itself a worldwide caliphate.[100] The name "Islamic State" and the group's claim to be a caliphate have been widely rejected, with the UN, various governments, and mainstream Muslim groups refusing to use the new name.[131][132] The group's declaration of a new caliphate in June 2014 and its adoption of the name "Islamic State" have been criticised and ridiculed by Muslim scholars and rival Islamists both inside and outside the territory it controls.[131][133]

In a speech in September 2014, United States President Barack Obama said that ISIL was neither "Islamic" (on the basis that no religion condones the killing of innocents) nor was it a "state" (in that no government recognises the group as a state),[134] while many object to using the name "Islamic State" owing to the far-reaching religious and political claims to authority which that name implies. The United Nations Security Council,[135] the United States,[134] Canada,[136] Turkey,[137] Australia,[138] Russia,[139] the United Kingdom[140] and other countries generally call the group "ISIL", while much of the Arab world uses the Arabic acronym "Dāʻish" (or "Daesh"). France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said "This is a terrorist group and not a state. I do not recommend using the term Islamic State because it blurs the lines between Islam, Muslims, and Islamists. The Arabs call it 'Daesh' and I will be calling them the 'Daesh cutthroats.'"[141] Retired general John Allen, the U.S. envoy appointed to co-ordinate the coalition; U.S. Army Lieutenant General James Terry, head of operations against the group; and Secretary of State John Kerry had all shifted towards use of the term Daesh by December 2014.[142]