While most of the world is suffering from the coronavirus outbreak, an old foe in Iraq is reportedly taking full advantage of the lack of spotlight in the middle east. As per the claims made by the Norwegian forces stationed in Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has ben taking advantage of the challenges posed by the coronavirus across the planet and rebuilding its lines in the process.
“It is a paradox that the virus that pacifies others has led to a boom for Daesh, with further terrorist attacks,” Norwegian Colonel Lieutenant Stein Grongstad told the newspaper Verdens Gang.
“We feel that they have an attack strategy that consists of better planning and that they are specifically targeting Iraqi forces that are not currently coordinated to the same extent as before the virus struck. Daesh makes use of road bombs, possesses advanced explosives, and utilize heavier arms. They also know how to use the terrain in the border areas to their advantage. In April, there were 20 Daesh attacks on Iraqi forces in Anbar province alone,” Grongstad said.
The Telemark battalion of the Norwegian military is posted in Iraq to train the local Iraqi soldiers to deal with the threat of terrorism posed in the region by terror groups like ISIS. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic there has been a no physical contact policy followed by the two forces.
Reports suggest that ISIS, which mostly remains in the agricultural areas, is not particularly exposed to the threat of coronavirus.
There has also been a significant release in prisoners in Iraq in wake of the outbreak that could infect people in large gatherings. Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang claims that many of these prisoners were ISIS sympathizers and are joining the ISIS ranks soon after getting out.
“Iraq is under pressure from several sides. The country is under financial pressure, is in a political crisis, and then the coronavirus came to the country. Daesh is using everything they can to spread their terror,” General Tahseen al-Khafagy, spokesman for the Iraqi Joint Operation Command, told the newspaper Klassekampen.
“Daesh pose a threat even if the organization is territorially defeated. Both Daesh and al-Qaeda are more easily getting a foothold where government control is lacking, or where instability prevails,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide said earlier this spring, admitting that she feared a Daesh return.
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