BEIRUT – The Islamic State group, responsible for some of the worst atrocities perpetrated against civilians in recent history, appears on the verge of collapse.
After brutalizing residents living under its command for more than three years, the militants are now battling to hang on to small pockets of territory in Iraq and Syria, besieged by local forces from all sides. Few, however, expect IS to completely go away, or for the bloodshed to end quickly.
IS emerged from the remnants of al-Qaida in Iraq. In Syria, it seized sole control of the city of Raqqa after driving out rival Syrian rebel factions.
In June 2014, IS captured Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city from where IS' leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared a self-styled "caliphate," promising an Islamic, religious utopia.