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US Policy and the Resurgence of ISIS in Iraq and Syria

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1. Sean W. O’Donnell, Stephen Akard, and Ann Calvaresi Barr, Operation Inherent Resolve, (Washington: U.S. Federal Government, 2020),18, https://media.defense.gov/2020/Aug/

2. Ibid, 18.

3. United Nations Security Council, Eleventh Report of the Secretary-General on the Threat Posed by ISIL (Da’esh) to International Peace and Security and the Range of United Nations Efforts in Support of Member States in Countering the Threat, (New York City: United Nations, 2020), 3, https://undocs.org/S/2020/774.

4. Ellen Ioanes, “A Scathing New Pentagon Report Blames Trump For the Return of ISIS in Syria and Iraq,” Business Insider, August 8, 2019, https://www.businessinsider.com/pentagon-blames-trump-for-return-of-isi….

5. Steve Beynon, “Biden Says US Must Maintain Small Force in Middle East, Has No Plans for Major Defense Cuts,” Stars and Stripes, September 10, 2020, https://www.stripes.com/biden-says-us-must-maintain-small-force-in-midd….

6. Margaret Coker and Falih Hassan, “Iraq Prime Minister Declares Victory Over ISIS,” The New York Times, December 9, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/09/world/middleeast/iraq-isis-haider-al….

7. Robbie Gramer, “State Department Outlines Dramatic Scale-Down of U.S. Presence in Iraq,” Foreign Policy, December 17, 2019, https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/12/17/state-department-dramatic-scale-do….

8. Matthew S. Schwartz, “Who Was The Iraqi Commander Also Killed In The Baghdad Drone Strike?,” National Public Radio, January 4, 2020, https://www.npr.org/2020/01/04/793618490/who-was-the-iraqi-commander-al….

9. Louisa Loveluck, “Iran-backed militias announce ‘conditional’ cease-fire against U.S. in Iraq,” The Washington Post, October 12, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/iran-backed-militias-a….

10. Louisa Loveluck, “U.S.-led Coalition to Withdraw Hundreds of Troops From Smaller Bases in Iraq,” The Washington Post, March 16, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/us-led-coalition-to-wi….

11. Chad Garland, “US-led Coalition to Turn Over Training Base South of Baghdad to Iraq,” Stars and Stripes, July 24, 2020, https://www.stripes.com/news/us-led-coalition-to-turn-over-training-bas….

12. Michael Knights and Alex Almeida, “Remaining and Expanding: The Recovery of Islamic State Operations in Iraq in 2019-2020,” Combating Terrorism Center, May 2020, https://ctc.usma.edu/remaining-and-expanding-the-recovery-of-islamic-st….

13. Hollie McKay, “ISIS Launched More Than 100 Attacks in Iraq in August, a Sharp Uptick From Previous Month,” Fox News, September 3, 2020, https://www.foxnews.com/world/isis-launches-more-than-100-attacks-in-ir….

14. Qassim Abdul-Zahra, Bassem Mroue, and Samya Kullab, “IS Extremists Step Up as Iraq, Syria, Grapple With Virus,” AP News, May 3, 2020, https://apnews.com/22cf69f5f7ab4a3268fd224107fadc61.

15. “IntelBrief: Recent Islamic State Attacks Demonstrate Its Durability and Resilience,” The Soufan Center, May 13, 2020, https://thesoufancenter.org/intelbrief-recent-islamic-state-attacks-dem….

16. Eric Schmitt, “Top General in Middle East Says U.S. Troop Levels Will Drop in Iraq and Syria,” The New York Times, August 12, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/12/world/middleeast/american-troops-ira….

17. Eric Schmitt, “U.S. Sending More Troops to Syria to Counter the Russians,” The New York Times, September 18, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/18/us/politics/us-troops-syria-russia.h….

18. Joseph Votel and Elizabeth Dent, “The Danger of Abandoning Our Partners,” The Atlantic, October 8, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/10/danger-abandoning-….

19. Greg Norman, “More Than 100 ISIS Prisoners in Syria Are on the Loose Following Turkey’s Invasion, US Envoy Says,” Fox News, October 23, 2019, https://www.foxnews.com/world/isis-prisoners-escape-syria-turkey-invasi….

20. Abdullah al-Ghadhawi, “ISIS in Syria: A Deadly New Focus,” Center for Global Policy, April 28, 2020, https://cgpolicy.org/articles/isis-in-syria-a-deadly-new-focus/.

21. Jim Garamone, “Central Command Chief Gives Details on Baghdadi Raid,” U.S. Department of Defense, October 30, 2019, https://www.defense.gov/Explore/News/Article/Article/2003960/central-co….

22. Elizabeth Dent, “The Unsustainability of ISIS Detentions in Syria,” Middle East Institute, March 12, 2019, https://www.mei.edu/publications/unsustainability-isis-detentions-syria.

23. Translated by Hassan Hassan, Center for Global Policy; Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, “ISIS Is Using Coronavirus to Rebuilt Its Terrorism Network in Iraq and Syria,” NBC News, May 28, 2020, https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/isis-using-coronavirus-rebuild-it….

24. Harald Berg Sævereid, “IS Får Drahjelp av Coronaviruset: Terrorbevegelsen Bygger Seg Opp Igjen,” Verdens Gang, May 13, 2020, https://www.vg.no/nyheter/utenriks/i/lA2m5G/is-faar-drahjelp-av-coronav….

25. Ibid.

26. Abdul-Zahra, Mroue, and Kullab, “IS Extremists Step Up.”

27. https://twitter.com/hxhassan/status/1245141529808814086

28. “Syria Gas Pipe Explosion Suspected to Be IS Attack, US Says,” Sky News, August 24, 2020, https://news.sky.com/story/syria-gas-pipe-explosion-suspected-to-be-is-….

29. Al-Ghadhawi, “ISIS in Syria.”

30. Ibid.

31. Yuliya Talmazan, “U.S. Troops Leaving Syria for Western Iraq as Kurds Look to Withdraw Amid Cease-fire,” NBC News, October 20, 2019, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/u-s-troops-leaving-syria-western-ira….

32. Zeke Miller, “Trump Planning to Withdraw More US Troops From Iraq,” The Associated Press, Military Times, September 9, 2020, https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2020/09/09/trump-plann….

33. Isabel Coles and Michael R. Gordon, “U.S. Warns Iraq It Is Preparing to Shut Down Baghdad Embassy,” The Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-warns-iraq-it-is-preparing-to-shut-dow….

34. Vanessa Romo, “European Leaders Reluctant to Meet Trump’s Demands to Take Back Captive ISIS Fighters,” National Public Radio, February 18, https://www.npr.org/2019/02/18/695831550/european-leaders-reluctant-to-….

35. Ibid.

36. Tom McCarthy, “Biden Warns ISIS Fighters Will Strike US Over Syria Withdrawal,” The Guardian, October 15, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/oct/15/biden-isis-syria-attack….

37. Ibid.

38. Hans Nichols and Margaret Talev, “Biden, Troop Levels, and the 9/11 Legacy,” Axios, September 11, 2020, https://www.axios.com/biden-trump-911-legacy-d870799f-5969-4307-8bb4-87….

39. Michael Crowley, “’Strategic Empathy’: How Biden’s Informal Diplomacy Shaped Foreign Relations,” The New York Times, July 5, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/05/us/politics/joe-biden-foreign-policy….

40. Joseph R. Biden Jr., ”Why America Must Lead Again,” Foreign Affairs, March/April 2020, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2020-01-23/why-am….

41. Alex Ward, “Trump and Biden Want You to Believe They’re More Anti-War Than They Are,” Vox, September 21, 2020, https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/21439556/2020-election-trump-bi….



Cover photo: An Iraqi fighter with the Popular Mobilization Forces inspects the site of an ISIS attack, a day earlier, on a unit of the paramilitary force in Mukaishefah, north of the capital, on May 3, 2020. (Photo by AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP via Getty Images)

Contents photo: This picture taken on March 24, 2019 shows a discarded ISIS flag lying on the ground in the village of Baghouz in Syria’s eastern Deir Ez-Zor Province near the Iraqi border, a day after the group’s “caliphate” was declared defeated by the U.S.-backed Kurdish-led SDF. (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)

Anti-ISIS operations involving the Iraqi army, police, and Popular Mobilization Forces in Kirkuk on June 22, 2020. (Photo by Ali Makram Ghareeb/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Trump administration’s recent actions in Iraq on January 07, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)


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