Terror group Islamic State will likely push for more international attacks by followers as it faces increasing pressure from air strikes in Iraq and Syria, a new study says.
In an assessment of the first 100 days of the international campaign against IS, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute says the coalition strategy has so far actually achieved very little.
It had slowed the IS advance, destroyed some of its equipment and inflicted unspecified but significant casualties.
ASPI analyst Tobias Feakin said with the onset of coalition air strikes, IS had begun to sharpen its focus on western nations, with attacks in Canada and Belgium, and apparently, now Australia.
‘It’s likely that ISIL will continue to push for international attacks by its followers, especially as it comes under increasing pressure from air strikes in Iraq and Syria,’ he said in the paper.
However, it posed a greater direct threat to nations closer to its centre of gravity, including Turkey, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and Indonesia, which have contributed significant numbers of fighters to its ranks.
ASPI executive director Peter Jennings said air attacks meant IS could no longer move in formations of military vehicles.
IS had over-extended through its shift to more conventional military capability and that had resulted in significant casualties which might not be sustainable for long.
‘Apart from a steady squeezing of ISIL which has slowed its advance and destroyed quantities of American military equipment, the coalition’s strategy has achieved very little,’ he said in the study.
IS remained strong in core areas of Iraq and Syria and could still develop effective propaganda that helped recruit foreign fighters.
The release of the ASPI paper coincided with the unfolding terrorist siege in Sydney.
Australia has contributed to the anti-IS coalition, with six Super Hornets conducting air strikes on IS targets in Iraq.
The ASPI study compiles open source information on air strikes against IS, with 999 strikes as at November 24.
A total of 282 were directed at IS forces besieging Kobani in Syria and 139 around the Mosul Dam in Iraq.
Most targeted were IS vehicles (197) and armed vehicles (166).
IS fighting positions have been targeted 173 times and checkpoints 33 times.
However, just 20 IS fighters have been reported killed by coalition air strikes, though the real figure is clearly much higher.