ISLAMIC STATE (ISIS) is now so fragile that its so-called Caliphate could be wiped out in a matter of HOURS, a top terror expert said today.
By Nick Gutteridge, EXCLUSIVE
PUBLISHED: 00:00, Sun, Oct 4, 2015 | UPDATED: 17:41, Sun, Oct 4, 2015
Western and more recently Russian airstrikes, chaotic leadership and mass defections have weakened the jihadi group to such an extent that it would be unable to repel even a small invasion force.
A terror analyst told Express.co.uk that the fanatics have vastly exaggerated their military strength and called on Western leaders to launch a co-ordinated fightback which would obliterate the hate group.
Dr Afzal Ashraf said ISIS has become its own worst enemy with its campaign of terror against the West, which has prompted an international backlash.
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A US-led coalition including Britain has launched airstrikes against the extremist group which have killed thousands of its fighters after being outraged by its barbarity.
And Dr Ashraf said that another atrocity on the scale of this summer's Tunisia beach massacre could result in boots on the ground and an end to ISIS' evil grip on power.
ISIS has been significantly weakened by airstrikes
The Kurdish Peshmerga have been driving ISIS back in northern Iraq
An abandoned ISIS outpost which was overrun by Kurdish forces
He said: "This mythical state will disappear in a matter of hours once the international community decides to act.
"It won't take very long at all to drive them, if not out of all of Iraq or Syria, then certainly the majority of their territories.
"They will hide in towns, but I would say do not to follow them as they would use innocent civilians as human shields.
"Leave them in these isolated settlements and they will soon lose control."
ISIS has reportedly lost half of its fighters
Footage from a Russian drone showing the destruction of an ISIS headquarters
Smoke billows from an ISIS building after an airstrike
This mythical state will disappear in a matter of hours once the international community decides to act
Dr Afzal Ashraf
Last month it emerged that half of the group's fighters have now been killed, whilst others are deserting en masse after their salaries were slashed.
Dr Ashraf, a researcher at the respected Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) think tank, added that assessments of ISIS' military capabilities have been vastly overplayed.
He said: "They have built up this superhero status because of the way the Iraqi army just fell apart when they confronted it. But that was not very much to do with their ability to fight, it was to do with the Iraqi army, which just doesn't have a leadership that inspires. Once you've got a General running off you don't expect the soldiers to stand and fight.
"As a result, they have given the impression that they are far more capable than they are. If we had serious forces fighting in a coordinated battle against these people they wouldn't last very long at all."
A terror expert said ISIS' fearsome reputation on the battlefield is unwarranted
ISIS' advance has stalled after its initial gains
Dr Afzal Ashraf said ISIS' Caliphate could fall within hours of an assault
His comments came as it emerged that ISIS is now indirectly inspiring far more terror plots abroad than it is carrying out itself.
Research by the Henry Jackson Society showed that the jihadis have been involved in the planning of just one Islamist attack in the last 14 months.
Instead, three quarters of those plotting atrocities in the group's name are inspired by online videos and had never had any contact with its fighters.
But Dr Ashraf said ISIS' strategy of promoting 'lone wolf' attacks will turn out to be its biggest blunder yet.
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He said: "Late last summer when ISIS came under attack from Western forces it started to lash out, first through beheadings of Western hostages.
"The reason we've seen a fall in beheadings since then is because they achieved nothing. ISIS had a lot of demands and they never succeeded in those demands.
"Instead they are now encouraging attacks in other countries, but their actions both in terms of inspiring these attacks and in causing a refugee crisis have taken the heat off Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and have put the focus of the main threat onto them.
"What's happening with these attacks, particularly the Tunisia attack, is that the British government has now taken an increasingly more assertive and aggressive role in the fight against them.
"ISIS has now achieved itself through its own actions what many politicians and people failed to do, and that's to galvanise the international community against it."
The fight against ISIS
Mon, August 10, 2015
The battle against ISIS militants (also abbreviated as Daesh, ISIL, IS and Islamic State) continues in the Middle East.
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Aircrafts belonging to US Air Force arrive in Incirlik Base in Turkey's Adana as part of operations against ISIS [Getty Images]
His comments came after Russian warplanes pounded nine ISIS outposts in Syria, obliterating a key command centre and potentially killing dozens more of its fighters.
Last week Kurdish troops sent fighters from the hated jihadi group running for the hills following a fierce firefight in northern Iraq.
The fearsome Peshmerga fighters captured several villages west of the key oil-rich city of Kirkuk, which is already in their sights.