Throughout August, one of the most persistent stories has been the claim that ISIS is making a substantial recovery in Iraq and Syria, a claim based on a single Pentagon report which implied only that this might potentially be the case.
The Pentagon clearly wants this to be true, because they are using it to spin a US military withdrawal from Syria as dangerous. Even though that withdrawal never happened in the first place, this narrative has refused to die, and the New York Times is again claiming ISIS is “regaining” strength, in its top story, as though it’s an absolute fact.
What is the story based on? Unsurprisingly, it’s almost entirely that same Pentagon report again, which is continuing to warn against a US military drawdown from Syria. The article focuses beyond that on trying to validate the fears expressed in that report.
Even then, ISIS is not taking over any territory, nor is it expected that they will even attempt to do so. The big focus seems to be on the massive Al Hol detention camp the Syrian Kurds are operating in northeastern Syria.
The detention camp is full of ISIS and suspected ISIS, and because the camp has no way of imposing absolute control of what everyone inside says and does, the Pentagon report speculates that they’re probably talking, and that it’ll be a hotbed of ISIS ideology.
Even then, the idea that a camp full of suspected ISIS members might have people supportive of ISIS’ ideology is hardly surprising, and since they’re already being detained they can’t exactly go do anything.