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ISIS continues to spread across Syria

Jihadists, many of whom were armed and supported by the US government in 2011, wave ISIS flags in Eastern Libya.

ISIS and ISIS affiliates control territory in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Nigeria, while also carrying out attacks in Lebanon and Egypt. Al-Qaeda affiliates control territory in Yemen and Syria.

Despite months and months of US and coalition bombing, ISIS is still gaining ground in Syria. If anything, US bombing has reduced opposition to ISIS by rival Jihadist forces.

Thousands of US armed, trained, and funded FSA and SRF personnel have defected to ISIS and the Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra.

The following map comes from the Washington D.C.-based Institute for the Study of War. In all of eastern Syria, the Syrian government only has one major military base left. ISIS has been coming within 100 yards of that base.

ISIS is already operating along the border of Lebanon. ISIS and Al-Nusra have been fighting with the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah. There have even been skirmishes with the Lebanese army.

In the heavily populated metropolitan area around Aleppo, Al-Nusra is still the dominate force. ISIS and Al-Nusra are both run by former leaders of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Al-Nusra is the official Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria and there is a deep rivalry between the two groups. However, the Al-Qeada network is becoming less relevant by the day. It is rumored that many Al-Nusra units have already defected to ISIS. It may only be a matter of time until Al-Nusra and ISIS merge.

ISIS affiliated groups have also taken over territory in Libya and the Nigerian state of Borno. A Jihadist group in the Sinai Peninsula has also pledged allegiance to ISIS, and has carried out terrorist attacks.

In Yemen, an Al-Qaeda affiliate controls large amounts of territory, while Shiite militias are taking control of the northwest. Yemen seems poised to split back into two separate nations, one Sunni and one Shiite. The two brothers who assaulted the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo magazine, are believed to have trained in Yemen with the Yemenese Al-Qaeda affiliate.

In Iraq, ethnic Kurdish, Yazidi, and Assyrian militias continue to fight ISIS in the north. The Iraqi national army appears to be missing in action.

In western Iraq, many Sunni Arab tribal militiamen, once funded and backed by the US government, now fight for ISIS. In order to stop the Sunni insurgency, the United States began paying members of the tribal militias to end their insurgency and support the national government. The US-funded Sunni paramilitaries were called “Sons of Iraq.” When the US left Iraq, the Shiite president of Iraq declared that the Sons of Iraq were a dangerous fifth column and refused to continue paying them. ISIS offered amnesty to former Sons of Iraq members if they confessed their sin [of working with the USA and the Shiite government] and repented.

Many former Baathists are also fighting for ISIS. When the US invaded Iraq, the Bush administration was adamant that all Baathists be fired from government jobs. This included about 50,000 people, mostly Sunnis, and ranged from school teachers to generals. These ostracized former Sunni Baathists are now an invaluable resource for ISIS. Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, a former member of Saddam’s inner circle believed to have been dead, has even emerged from hiding and is now leading thousands of armed former Baathists in support of ISIS.