In the once hotly contested region of Makhmour, Iraq the United States led coalition executed an airstrike on a position controlled by the Islamic State. The airstrike killed 7 militants who were, at the time, occupying a bunker located roughly 60km South of Kurdistan’s capital city, Erbil. Though the majority of Iraq and Kurdistan are under control of either the government or coalition forces, pockets of Islamic State resistance still exist throughout the region and small terrorist cells continue to strike at government forces whenever possible.

Peshmerga Commander Sirwan Barzani, who controls the Kurdish forces in Mahkmour, told local media that around 8 p.m. on Sunday the strike was carried out. He also confirmed the number of enemy killed in action. The Peshmerga forces supporting the airstrike were stationed 1km from the target while the airstrike was conducted and came to occupy their current positions when they retreated from contested territory on October 16th last year. It was then that Iraqi and Iranian government supported PMF and PMU militia’s took over the city of Kirkuk and other surrounding disputed territories.

The Iraqi and Kurdish governments declared that the Islamic State was official defeated in December last year. Despite this claim, ISIS militants continue to carry out attacks. This transition from conventional to asymmetric engagements is reminiscent of the insurgency faced by the coalition militaries who participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Once again, a smaller nearly defeated force has reverted to plain clothes and guerrilla tactics in the face of an overwhelming adversary. This turn of events was predicted by many during the ISIS conflict and was always viewed as an inevitability.

The coalition has continued to eliminate pockets of Islamic State fighters in Syria but with the Turkish military besieging the Kurdish Canton of Afrin, the coalition’s ally and primary source of ground forces, the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), have refocused their efforts. It will be difficult to predict when the Islamic State will, truly, be defeated but with their fanatical ideology, it will certainly take some time.