Putting ISIS ‘on the run’

Peshmerga soldiers by a fire after they blocked Highway 47, the major east-west road that connects Syria to Mosul and serves as a lifeline for ISIS, just east of the town of Sinjar, in Iraq, Nov. 12, 2015. (Bryan Denton/The New York Times)

The Islamic State’s boasts of responsibility for the savage terror attacks in Paris on Friday should not bolster an alarming notion that its rise is inevitable — and not only in the Middle East. Instead, it should serve as a renewed call to decisive action against the fanatics who carry out ISIS’ warped aims.

As French President Francois Hollande aptly said Saturday, his nation “will be merciless against the terrorists” and will “triumph over barbarism.”

And Kurdish forces in northern Iraq have been advancing that cause by been gaining impressive ground, including the capture of the town of Sinjar from ISIS fighters on Friday. The Kurdistan Regional Security Council told Reuters that the terrorist enemy was “defeated and on the run” in that area.

As The New York Times reported, the Kurds were assisted by “lightly armed Yazidi fighters” in the fight for Sinjar, which ISIS had taken “last year and murdered, raped and enslaved thousands of Yazidis.”

The path to that Kurdish-Yazidi triumph was cleared by air strikes from the U.S.-led coalition supporting the anti-ISIS troops.

According to the Times, ISIS fighters have been “partly encircled in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province in Iraq, and were recently evicted from Baiji in northern Iraq, the site of a strategic oil refinery.”

The story added, however, that ISIS retains “a stranglehold on vital areas in the region, including Mosul and large portions of eastern Syria and western Iraq.”

That ISIS turf includes much of Anbar Province, a Sunni Arab stronghold. So while ISIS is in partial retreat, it will still require a continuing commitment from the Kurds — and the American-led coalition — to push it into total defeat.

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As for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attempts to drive ISIS out of Syria, those are motivated by not just his misguided resolve to perpetuate the brutal Assad regime but his clear goal of extending Russia’s reach in the Mideast.

Still, ISIS setbacks in Syria do further erode its overall strength in the region.

Michael Knights, a military expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told the Times that the ongoing Kurdish success in Iraq “will slow down the flow of Islamic State traffic to and from Mosul. That traffic will be forced to move on desert tracks and local roads to the south of Sinjar, which will greatly reduce the flow.”

This outcome re-confirms that ISIS, contrary to many grim assumptions and the awful aftermath of the terror attacks in Paris, is not an irresistible manifestation of Islamic radicalism’s rise in the Middle East — or anywhere else.

And while Islamic State propagandists hail their bloody slaughter in Paris as a victory, their latest celebration of mass murder should galvanize the civilized world’s resolve to destroy the ISIS scourge.

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