Despite setbacks including defeat in Mosul, Islamic State is merely contained and could fill any new power vacuum

A day before the battle to expel Islamic State from Mosul began, the group’s propaganda was dealt a potentially significant blow that was quickly forgotten. Turkish-backed Syrian rebels drove Isis out of Dabiq, a small town in northern Syria, where Mohammed Emwazi, the British extremist known as Jihadi John, beheaded Peter Kassig, an American aid worker, declaring: “Here we are, burying the first American crusader in Dabiq, eagerly waiting for the remainder of your armies to arrive.”

With the rise of Isis in 2014, the town served as the centre of its propaganda. This was where Isis promised a final showdown between the forces of good and evil, an epic battle supposedly foretold by Islamic prophecies in the seventh century. Isis named its main propaganda magazine after the town.

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