ISIS is losing its propaganda reach as the US-led global anti-ISIS coalition is targeting the group’s propagandists on the battlefield and taking down their accounts online.
ISIS’ media presence has been substantially reduced in the past six months, coalition spokesperson Col. Ryan Dillon stated in a press briefing on Thursday. This is part of the coalition’s determination to ensure the terrorist group has no sanctuary anywhere, he said.
The coalition targets ISIS content on social media including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
In May, ISIS video content on Twitter fell by 92 percent. In April ISIS propaganda production dropped to its lowest level in over six months, a 75 percent reduction in the group’s monthly output.
Counter-ISIS content now outnumbers pro-ISIS content across the world, Dillon said. “ISIS is losing on every front.”
Asked if targeting ISIS on major media platforms would force them to go underground or use more secure ways to distribute their message, Dillon replied, “If we are able to reduce their ability to inspire and to recruit other people who want to join their ranks, then that is a success. If they go underground, then that means that there are fewer people that they can reach.”
A senior ISIS propaganda official, Abu Sulayman al-Iraqi, was killed in an airstrike near Mosul in early July, the coalition announced in a statement on Thursday. He “provided strategic guidance and production oversight for ISIS propaganda that recruited, indoctrinated and directed terrorists around the world.”
Four other senior ISIS media figures were killed in airstrikes in April and May.
The coalition also announced the killing of Bassam al-Jayfus, involved in ISIS’ financial network, in an airstrike in Mayadin, Syria on July 18. “His death causes a disruption to ISIS’s multi-national money laundering network, which is used to pay for foreign terrorist fighters as well as terror plotting and attacks throughout the world.”
According to Dillon, an estimated less than 20,000 ISIS fighters remain in their major strongholds across Iraq and Syria. The majority of them, 5,000 to 10,000, are in the middle Euphrates Valley area running from Deir ez-Zur to the Iraq-Syria border region. Fewer than 2,000 are in Raqqa, about 1,000 are in al-Qaim, and fewer than 1,000 are in each Tal Afar and Hawija.
As of the end of June, ISIS has lost 73 percent of territory it used to control in Iraq and 58 percent in Syria, according to coalition figures.