ISIS is losing territory on all fronts — here’s what the group leaves behind

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ISIS militants, along with their kidnapped civilians, flee the city of Manjib, Syria.
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SDF Press Center

There’s no question that ISIS forces are losing ground in territories in Syria and Iraq – after making so many enemies from several countries and across numerous ethnic lines, the group might have bit off more than it could chew.

Forces seem to be losing territory so fast that they resorted to tactics such as kidnapping civilians to form a “human shield” during hasty retreats.

And the death of ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani this week will likely hasten problems within the group. Adnani helped spur recruitment for the group, as well as planned external operations.

Images taken of abandoned ISIS strongholds in Syria and Iraq suggest that the trove of valuable intelligence materials left behind, such as ordnance components, could be analyzed by experts to thwart ISIS in the future.

Here’s what its safe houses in Syria and Iraq looked like:


A billboard with Quranic verses in the historic city of Palmyra, Syria.

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Omar Sanadiki/Reuters

An ISIS flag hangs on the wall of an abandoned building in Tell Hamis, Syria, after the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, took control of the area from ISIS militants.

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Rodi Said/Reuters

Tripods and a projector inside an ancient hammam, or steam bath, that was used by ISIS as a media center in Manbij, Syria.

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Rodi Said/Reuters

Here’s what else remained at the ISIS media center inside the hammam in Manbij.

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Rodi Said/Reuters

Car parts, which, according to Syria Democratic Forces fighters, were used by ISIS militants to prepare car bombs, at a workshop in Manbij.

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Rodi Said/Reuters

Explosives left behind by ISIS militants at a school in Fallujah, Iraq.

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Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters

Sandbags and ordnance shells remain from a factory abandoned by ISIS militants in Fallujah.

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Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters

Rocket-propelled grenades are stacked at a school following clashes in Fallujah.

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REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

A book left behind by ISIS fighters after government forces recaptured Fallujah from ISIS.

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REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

A Syria Democratic Forces fighter inspects a room that, according to the SDF, was used by ISIS militants to prepare explosives in Manbij.

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Rodi Said/Reuters

SDF fighters inspect bags of niqabs at a center that was used by ISIS religious police, or al-Hisbah, in Manbij.

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Rodi Said/Reuters

A member of the Iraqi counterterrorism force stands by an ISIS factory in Fallujah.

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REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

A tunnel used by ISIS in the town of Sinjar, Iraq.

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REUTERS/Ari Jalal