The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), even as its so-called caliphate continues to crumble, disseminated a new propaganda film this week urging the jihadi remnants in the group’s last sliver of land in Syria not to worry about their possible demise because they will end up in “paradise” while their enemies will go to “hell.”
“Tomorrow, God willing, we will be in paradise and they will be burning in hell,” an ISIS militant identified as Abu Abd al-Azeem in the video said, Reuters reported Wednesday as the fighting continued.
Al-Azeem later argued that all ISIS wanted to do is apply God’s law in the form of sharia, a strict set of Islamic rules accused of undermining women’s rights.
On Friday, U.S. envoy James Jeffrey revealed that ISIS has been downgraded to its last few hundred fighters and to less than 0.1 square miles of the land in the battle for its final Syrian bastion. Jeffrey conceded there may be between 15,000-20,000 ISIS fighters in all of Syria and Iraq.
In the video, the jihadi group also urges its followers in ISIS’s ever-shrinking pocket of land in the Syrian village of Baghouz to “keep reciting your prayers and ask for forgiveness.”
“Repent and ask God for forgiveness, oh servants of God, for perhaps the Almighty will find a way out for us,” the video notes.
Although the video is dated March 9, it remains unclear when someone filmed it, Reuters acknowledges.
After laying weeks-long siege to the Syrian village where the jihadis are holed up for weeks, the U.S.-backed forces paused the operations briefly and resumed on Sunday, backed by American-led coalition airstrikes.
U.S.-led coalition forces and local troops have dramatically reduced the territory ISIS once controlled across Iraq and Syria into a hamlet of tents, atop caves and tunnels. Still, the U.S. intelligence community and military this year warned ISIS remains a menace.
“IS still operates in remote territory elsewhere in Syria and Iraq and it is widely assessed that it will continue to represent a potent security threat after the fall of Baghouz,” Reuters.
The flow of civilians, tunnels, human shields, mines, and elite jihadi forces are reportedly slowing down the capture of the last ISIS pocket, preventing anyone from officially declaring a victory of the group’s territorial caliphate.