Images and info that help explain the status of the world’s fight against ISIS.
And if you liked this post, be sure to check out these popular posts:
1 of 56
An ISIS bombing devastates Kobani, Syria on October 20, 2014.Gokhan Sahin/Getty Images
2 of 56
The son of an Iraqi Shiite fighter from the group Asaib Ahl al-Haq (The League of the Righteous) who was killed by ISIS in Syria mourns over his father's coffin during the funeral in the holy city of Najaf on March 16, 2016.HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP/Getty Images
3 of 56
The destruction caused by ISIS in the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp in the Syrian capital of Damascus on April 6, 2015.STR/AFP/Getty Images
4 of 56
A member of Iraq's elite counter-terrorism service sits in a vehicle after being wounded in fighting ISIS jihadists in the al-Sajariyah area, east of the city of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's Anbar province, on February 3, 2016.AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images
5 of 56
Displaced Iraqi families gather as they flee a military operation by Iraqi security personnel aimed at retaking areas from ISIS, in the desert west of the city of Samarra on March 3, 2016.AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images
6 of 56
Syrian children stand inside a cage in protest of the continued killing of civilians in the war against ISIS, in Douma on February 15, 2015.ABD DOUMANY/AFP/Getty Images
7 of 56
A displaced Iraqi man from the Yazidi community, who fled violence between ISIS and Peshmerga fighters in the Iraqi town of Sinjar, takes pictures with his cellphone as he stands on the outskirts of the town during an operation by Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by US-led strikes on November 12, 2015.SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images
8 of 56
On March 2, 2015, schoolchildren run through a damaged wall for the first day of school in the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani, as they returned to class after Kurdish and rebel forces expelled ISIS from the town following more than four months of fighting.Michalis Karagiannis/AFP/Getty Images
9 of 56
A boy stands next to impacts of projectile weapons on a wall near the scene of an explosion. That explosion occurred on on August 21, 2016, when ISIS attacked a wedding party that left 50 dead in Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey near the Syrian border.ILYAS AKENGIN/AFP/Getty Images
10 of 56
People wait close to a large amount of empty graves at a cemetery during the funeral for the victims of the wedding party attack in Gaziantep on August 21, 2016.ILYAS AKENGIN/AFP/Getty Images
11 of 56
Iraqis mourn the loss of a man who had died fighting ISIS during his funeral in Basra on April 11, 2015.HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI/AFP/Getty Images
12 of 56
ISIS explosions ravage Kobani, Syria on October 20, 2014.Gokhan Sahin/Getty Images
13 of 56
A Syrian refugee girl stands in a building in the Syrian Kurdish city of Amudaon on June 27, 2015 after running away from clashes between regime forces and ISIS.UYGAR ONDER SIMSEK/AFP/Getty Images
14 of 56
A Shiite Muslim fighter takes part in combat training near the city of Najaf, Iraq on August 23, 2014, before joining the government forces to fight ISIS in the area south of Baghdad.HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP/Getty Images
15 of 56
An Iraqi Sunni fighter stands in wait in Amriyat al-Fallujah, Iraq, on May 26, 2015.HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP/Getty Images
16 of 56
Men handle pigeons near the Citadel in Erbil, Iraq, a gathering point for thousands of displaced people, on June 29, 2014.Spencer Platt/Getty Images
17 of 56
Iraqi government forces and elite counterterrorism service patrol from the edge of the Shuhada neighborhood, southern Fallujah, during an operation to regain control of the area from ISIS on June 10, 2016.AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images
18 of 56
On February 3, 2015, an Iraqi man inspects the remains of members of the Yazidi minority killed by ISIS after Kurdish forces discovered a mass grave near the village of Sinuni, Iraq.SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images
19 of 56
Syrian army soldiers patrol a building previously used for storing seeds in the countryside of Deir Hafer, a former ISIS stronghold, near the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on December 2, 2015.GEORGE OURFALIAN/AFP/Getty Images
20 of 56
The sister (left) of Mohammed Ismael, who died in one of three suicide car bombings claimed by ISIS in the nearby town of Tal Tamr earlier that week, mourns during his funeral in Qamishli, Syria on December 13, 2015.DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images
21 of 56
Fighters from the Iraqi Imam Ali Brigade take part in a training exercise in Iraq's central city of Najaf on March 7, 2015, ahead of joining the military operation against ISIS in the city of Tikrit.HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP/Getty Images
22 of 56
A Peshmerga fighter flashes the sign for victory on top of an armored vehicle on the front line of fighting with ISIS just east of Mosul, Iraq on August 18, 2014.AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images
23 of 56
An Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighter poses on the front line in the war against ISIS in Makhmur, Iraq on August 9, 2014.SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images
24 of 56
Kurdish people celebrate near the Turkish-Syrian border at Suruc, from which they had recently expelled ISIS, on January 27, 2015.BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images
25 of 56
The Arc du Triomphe, in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, before and after its destruction by ISIS in October 2015.JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images
26 of 56
Palmyra's Temple of Bel before and after its September 2015 destruction at the hands of ISIS.JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images
27 of 56
Palmyra's Temple of Baal Shamin before and after its September 2015 destruction at the hands of ISIS.JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images
28 of 56
An explosive ISIS attack on Kobani, Syria on October 20, 2014. Gokhan Sahin/Getty Images
29 of 56
Iraqi Shiite men about to join the war against ISIS participate in a training session in Hillah on October 18, 2014.HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP/Getty Images
30 of 56
Tanks from the Turkish Armed Forces are dispatched to the Turkish - Syrian border as clashes intensified with ISIS on September 29, 2014 in Suruc, Turkey.Carsten Koall/Getty Images
31 of 56
An Iraqi man cries over body bags containing the remains of people believed to have been slain by ISIS at the Speicher camp in Tikrit, Iraq on April 12, 2015.AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images
32 of 56
An Iraqi Badr Brigade militiaman sits along the Tigris River in the palace compound of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein on April 9, 2015 in Tikrit, Iraq, which had recently been retaken from ISIS.John Moore/Getty Images
33 of 56
An Iraqi woman holds her exhausted son as over 1,000 Iraqis who have fled fighting against ISIS in and around the city of Mosul and Tal Afar wait at a Kurdish checkpoint in the hopes of entering a temporary displacement camp on July 1, 2014 in Khazair, Iraq.Spencer Platt/Getty Images
34 of 56
Iraqi Shiite men who have volunteered to join government forces and militias in the war against ISIS take part in a training session in the central city of Hillah on October 18, 2014.HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP/Getty Images
35 of 56
Iraqi Sunni men -- reportedly former ISIS members that had defected to join Iraqi government forces -- take position in Amriyat al-Fallujah, in Iraq's Anbar province, on May 26, 2015.HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP/Getty Images
36 of 56
An Iraqi security forces member stands with a rocket propelled grenade in the rural town of Husayba on December 7, 2015, where government forces had been closing in on ISIS militants who had seized the Anbar province's capital the preceding May after a three-day blitz involving dozens of huge truck bombs.AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images
37 of 56
A fighter from Jaish al-Islam runs during battle in Harasta Qantara, Syria on January 23, 2016.AMER ALMOHIBANY/AFP/Getty Images
38 of 56
An Iraqi girl, whose family fled the city of Ramadi after it was seized by ISIS, stands outside a tent at a camp housing displaced families on May 18, 2015 in the town of Bzeibez.AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images
39 of 56
A member of Iraqi pro-government forces stands amid the rubble of destroyed buildings in the Hoz neighbourhood in central Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's Anbar province, on December 27, 2015 during military operations conducted against ISIS.AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images
40 of 56
Iraqis who had fled recent fighting in the cities of Mosul and Tal Afar, Iraq try to enter a temporary displacement camp but are blocked by Kurdish soldiers on July 2, 2014 in Khazair, Iraq.Spencer Platt/Getty Images
41 of 56
An explosion rocks the Syrian city of Kobani during an ISIS car bomb attack on October 20, 2014.Gokhan Sahin/Getty Images
42 of 56
In the city of Ankara on October 7, 2014, Turkish police use tear gas and a water cannon against people protesting the government's perceived lack of response to recent ISIS attacks in Kobani, Syria.ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images
43 of 56
A child waits at a refugee camp set up for Iraqis -- mostly those fleeing the northern city of Mosul, which had recently been captured by ISIS -- on the outskirts of the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain on February 2, 2016.DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images
44 of 56
A fighter from the Iraqi Imam Ali Brigade participates in a training exercise in Najaf, Iraq on March 7, 2015 before joining the war against ISIS.HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP/Getty Images
45 of 56
A fighter of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) -- which drew in scores of women to fight ISIS because of the group's threat to both the Kurds and womens' rights -- guards a post near Mosul, Iraq on August 21, 2014.AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images
46 of 56
Members of the Kurdish People's Protection Units stand near a check point on the outskirts of the destroyed Syrian town of Kobani, which they had taken back from ISIS, on June 20, 2015.Ahmet Sik/Getty Images
47 of 56
A Syrian-Kurdish young woman practices shooting during a training session for the fight against ISIS organized by the Kurdish Defense Units on October 19, 2013 in the Kurdish town of Derik, on the border with Turkey and Iraq.FABIO BUCCIARELLI/AFP/Getty Images
48 of 56
Iraqi Shiite members of the Saraya al-Salam (Peace Brigades) stand with their weapons in Iraq's holy city of Najaf as they prepare to reinforce government troops in the fight against ISIS for control of Fallujah, on May 17, 2016. HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP/Getty Images
49 of 56
Iraqi Turkmen forces patrol a checkpoint in the northern town of Taza Khormato, close to positions held by ISIS fighters, on June 21, 2014.KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images
50 of 56
Iraqi women walk past a damaged building at the site of an ISIS car bombing that killed 75 and wounded 130 on July 3, 2016 in Baghdad's central Karrada district.SABAH ARAR/AFP/Getty Images
51 of 56
Shiite Iraqi fighters fire missiles from a launcher during clashes with ISIS in Jurf al-Sakher on October 19, 2014.MOHAMMED SAWAF/AFP/Getty Images
52 of 56
A member of the Kurdish forces looks at the remains (unseen) of Yazidis killed by ISIS as he searches for clues that might lead to missing people on February 3, 2015, a day after a mass grave has been discovered near the Iraqi village of Sinuni.SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images
53 of 56
A fighter from Jaish al-Islam (Islam Army) -- the foremost rebel group in Damascus province, Syria who fiercely opposes both the regime and ISIS -- holds a position in Harasta Qantara, on the eastern outskirts of Damascus, on January 23, 2016.AMER ALMOHIBANY/AFP/Getty Images
54 of 56
A fighter from the Shiite Popular Mobilisation units takes part in a military parade in the southern Iraqi city of Basra on September 26, 2015, displaying their skills ahead of taking part in the war against ISIS.HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI/AFP/Getty Images
55 of 56
A Kurdish man sits at the border area near Mursitpinar, Tukrey, opposite the Syrian town of Kobani, where heavy fighting between ISIS had recently taken place, on October 16, 2014.ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images
The War Against ISIS
If nothing else, you know that ISIS is bad. The thing is, even after years of scary headlines and even scarier videos, most of us know little to nothing else about the intricate and downright brutal realities that inform the war against ISIS (or even what many claim to be the group's rightful name).
Now, you know that ISIS is a radical jihadist group seeking to gain more and more territory in the Middle East so that they can further propagate their fundamentalist brand of Islam. And you know that, over the last several years, prominent global actors have begun fighting back.
But where exactly did ISIS come from and who exactly is fighting the war against ISIS now? And finally, who's winning?
The Origins Of ISIS
U.S. Department of Defense via Getty ImagesAbu Musab al-Zarqawi (center) in Iraq in 2006.
Jordanian radical Abu Musab al-Zarqawi founded the group that would become ISIS -- then known as The Organization of Monotheism and Jihad -- in 1999. The group, and largely al-Zarqawi himself, made headlines in the following years due to their violent participation in the Iraqi insurgency following the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, after which the group pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda.
Soon after, in 2006, the Organization of Monotheism and Jihad merged with several Sunni insurgent groups in Iraq to form the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI). However, al-Zarqawi's death at the hands of U.S. forces in June 2006, as well as the subsequent killings of his replacements in 2010 -- not to mention the long shadow cast by bin Laden -- limited the ISI's global profile.
But then, in 2011, the Syrian civil war broke out, tearing open the country enough to allow the ISI to slip in and rebrand itself ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) or ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) in 2013.
With the area in chaos, the following year made quick, large gains in territory in both Syria and Iraq. The rule they imposed in that territory was, in a word, brutal, as confirmed by many stories, photos, and videos that made it out and into the hands of the international media.
Now, the world knew the name ISIS.
The War Against ISIS
John Moore/Getty ImagesVolunteers from the Shia Badr Brigade militia fire on ISIS fighters on the frontline on April 11, 2015 in Ebrahim Ben Ali, in Anbar Province, Iraq.
By mid-2014, with ISIS now known the world over, it wasn't long before the war against ISIS would begin.
In June 2014, Iran and the U.S. began sending troops and aircraft to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria. By September, following a NATO summit, the U.S. had convinced nearly a dozen, mostly European, countries to join its coalition against ISIS. Soon, France had its own coalition of likewise mostly European countries.
By the end of the year, these groups joined together to form the U.S.-led Operation Inherent Resolve, consisting of more than four dozen countries providing either military, humanitarian, or intelligence aid in order to, as they put it, defeat the ideology, the funding, and the recruitment of ISIS.
The following year, Russia launched its own coalition to intervene exclusively in Syria while a group of 34 Islamic nations based out of Saudi Arabia formed their own coalition against ISIS. Meanwhile, select members of all these groups began expanding their fight against ISIS into Afghanistan, Libya, Nigeria, and beyond.
Across all these battlegrounds and among all these participants, military intervention in the war against ISIS usually took the form of precise air strikes coupled with military aid to local ground forces.
And, for the most part, it worked. As of mid-2016, The New York Times reports that ISIS territory is down 45 percent in Syria and 20 percent in Iraq from its August 2014 peak, with the group losing its military dominance over nearly half of the "key places" -- cities, oil fields, and so on -- it once held.
YOUNIS AL-BAYATI/AFP/Getty ImagesA flag of the Shiite Hezbollah militant group flutters over a crossed-out mural depicting the ISIS emblem in Al-Alam village, northeast of the Iraqi city of Tikrit, on March 9, 2015, during a military operation by Iraqi government forces and tribal fighters to regain control of the Tikrit region from jihadists.
As ISIS territory has shrunk, so has its revenue. According to TIME, the world's richest terror network had assets of over $2 trillion and income of nearly $3 billion -- largely based on oil, taxes, and seized cash -- by the end of 2014. But now, the group's oil revenue is down 26 percent from last year, and its shrunken tax base is producing $2 billion less than that 2014 peak.
Beyond diminished funding, ISIS' foreign recruitment is down to two-thirds of its peak (from 30,000 to 19,000) and its monthly local recruitment is down tenfold (from 2,000 to 200).
However, despite what TIME calls the "real progress" made in the war against ISIS, several new threats are on the rise: foreign fighters returning home and spreading ISIS ideology there, increased violence out of desperation (the first quarter of 2016 was the bloodiest since mid-2014), and ISIS resources being pushed into new territories (Libya has recently seen a major increase in attacks and foreign fighters).
And as much as the war against ISIS in Syria and Iraq has proven successful, those three threats above could prove even more disastrous in the long run. F.B.I Director James Comey made headlines two months ago when he predicted that the coalition would indeed crush ISIS, but that would simply cause the ISIS ideology to simply spread to new places like never before.
“At some point there is going to be a terrorist diaspora out of Syria like we’ve never seen before,” Comey said at a cybersecurity conference at Fordham University. “Not all of the Islamic State killers are going to die on the battlefield.”