2015-03-28. ISIS and the sectarian conflict in the Middle East. RESEARCH PAPER 15/16 19 March 2015
Since the shock takeover of Mosul, the progress of ISIS and its allies through Iraq has been slowed and, in a few places reversed. This has happened partly because further, Shia-dominated territory in Iraq is more difficult for ISIS to conquer and partly because demoralised official Iraqi forces are increasingly supported by Shia militias, often with Iranian organisational help, by Kurdish Peshmerga forces who are receiving assistance from the West, and by US air strikes. In Syria, ISIS is up against a range of opponents: Jabhat al-Nusra, the Free Syrian Army, the Syrian Kurds and, to a certain extent, the Syrian armed forces.