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Islamic State group vows to escalate fight against Syrian Kurds, US-led coalition

Despite repeated strikes targeting senior IS leaders in Syria and Iraq, the group’s infrastructure and financial leadership remain intact
Iraq’s rapid response forces prepare to storm house north of Baghdad last month, searching for IS suspects (AFP)

The Islamic State (IS) group vowed to intensify its fight against the US-led coalition and Kurds in eastern Syria in a video posted on Sunday on its Telegram channel.

"The fire of the battle between us and them has been reignited and will intensify," the militant group said, addressing what it called "soldiers of Islam" and residents of the “caliphate”, AFP reported.

IS took swathes of oil-rich land in Iraq and Syria in a lightning 2014 offensive.

The militants lost the last shred of their self-declared "caliphate" in late March when Syria's Kurds took the village of Baghhouz in Deir Ezzor province with support from coalition air strikes.

Still, IS retains sleeper cells and has orchestrated a series of car bomb and arson attacks in eastern and northeastern Syria since its territorial defeat.

“As long as it can gain revenue, it will remain a danger,” Rand Corporation said last week in a report on the group’s finances and prospects following its territorial collapse, Voice of America reported.

The Rand report estimates IS had more than $400m in assets earlier this year. And even if the actual figure is lower, there are no indications that efforts to defeat IS have left the group wanting. “It still has certainly more than enough money to survive for quite a while,” Rand senior economist Howard Shatz, one of the authors of the report, told VOA.

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“It’s a cash organisation. Its expenses had to match its revenues,” he said. “We haven’t seen evidence of drawing from reserves or expenses outstripping revenues.”

"Despite repeated strikes targeting senior IS leaders in Syria and Iraq, the group’s infrastructure and financial leadership have remained solid, while the best US estimates indicate there may be as many as 18,000 so-called members, many of whom are thought to be militants."

A US Defence Department report earlier this month said that IS was "resurging" in Syria, while it had "solidified its insurgent capabilities in Iraq".

In Sunday's video - the second since the fall of Baghouz - IS accused coalition countries of having entrapped its local adversaries, including the Kurds.

"They have been thrown into the flames of a fierce war that will leave them without tail or head," IS said.

The video includes decapitations and the shooting to death at close range of people presented as kidnapped Kurdish fighters.

IS released a video in late April - shortly after claiming deadly attacks in Sri Lanka - in which leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi purportedly appeared, pledging vengeance and a "long battle" ahead.