Many observers declared 2017 the year that the Islamic State (IS) group died its final death – with the loss of virtually all of its territory in both Syria and Iraq.

But little attention has been paid to the hundreds of thousands of militants and leaders of IS who are still believed to be roaming around the border zone between the countries, and hiding in the vast desert, the discreet caves and rugged mountains.

Others have returned to civilian life. And many carry stories of what took place in the time of the “caliphate”.

Perhaps most infamous are the stories of secret deals between IS and other major players, including the Syrian government, which were first reported in 2014.

The extensive network of middlemen that IS established across neighbouring territories and countries helped their crude-for-cash deals. At times, according to reports, IS was making $3m a day from oil sales in Syria and Iraq.

Oil products became the backbone of their economy, according to numerous reports, enabling the caliphate to thrive for as long as it did.

The crumbling skeleton of the Islamic State rattles on for now

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Featured image courtesy of AP