Minister warns Islamic State could respond to loss of territory with terror attacks in the West

Posted On: 
23rd October 2016

A government minister has warned that Islamic State will attempt more attacks in Europe and possibly the United States as the territory it holds in the Middle East continues to shrink.

A convoy of Islamic State fighters pictured in 2014
Credit: 
PA Images

The jihadist group has seen its progress in both Iraq and Syria pushed back by a combination of Kurdish fighters, Iraqi army forces and coalition forces.  

IS has already lost over half of its territory in Iraq and about a fifth of its territory in Syria, where its nominal capital city of Raqqa is located.

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It looks likely to soon lose control of its main Iraqi stronghold in Mosul, a city of approximately one million people, which it seized in June 2014.

International Development minister Rory Stewart, who served as a deputy governor in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, said the loss of Mosul would have a serious impact on IS. 

"The Islamic State is all about territory, it's all about holding state, that's what makes it different to al-Qaeda, so if they lose Mosul that will be a very, very significant blow to their credibility," he told BBC One's Sunday Politics programme.

But Mr Stewart warned that success could result in the militants looking for targets in the West.

“You’re absolutely right, there is a serious risk that as it gets squeezed in the Middle East it is going to try and pop up somewhere else and that could include attacks in Europe and the United States, and they’ve made it clear that that’s something they are focused on," he said.

"So we also have, along with all the stuff we’re doing in the region, a big, big focus on counter-terrorism, security and making sure that we keep the United Kingdom and Europe safe.”