With the so-called caliphate crumbling on the ground, ISIS is looking to ramp up its internet operation in a bid to “reassert” themselves online, General Christopher Ghika said. But in an interview with The Daily Mail, he said Britain and its allies were hunting down the online jihadis. Mr Ghika said warplanes had bombed a media centre used by fanatics in Syria recently, with ISIS reduced to a tiny sliver of territory within the country.
He said: “They are in a pocket now which is a couple of miles by a couple of miles.”
He described those who remained as a “hard core” who had “seen the gradual shrinkage of the physical caliphate”.
Mr Ghika said the size of the area controlled by ISIS had shrunk dramatically in recent years.
He said: “In 2014 it was something about the size of the United Kingdom.
“I think within the next weeks or so it will be done.”
However, he emphasised the group would continue to operate in Iraq by setting up sleeper cells.
He explained: “They are recycling old photographs and recycling old material. They no longer have the freedom to print.
“But their presence in the information space is something which we are going after as vigorously as we go after their presence on the ground.”
Coalition powers are working closely with Iraqi security forces in a bid to prevent IS insurgents returning to towns which have been liberated from the group, General Ghika said.
He added: “We have got a very widespread operation in Iraq to defeat them there.
“I think they will try and move from Syria into Iraq and will try to set up a series of cells maybe with a command network.”
He also said al-Baghdadi would be found and killed.
US-led coalition warplanes struck Islamic State’s last stronghold in eastern Syria and hundreds of civilians fled the besieged enclave on Monday as US-backed fighters pressed their campaign to seize it.
Coalition jets roared overhead as columns of white smoke rose from the Islamic State-held Baghouz area a short distance from the Iraqi border, a witness told Reuters.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which has driven ISIS from swathes of northern and eastern Syria with US-led coalition support, launched an offensive on Saturday to capture the enclave in Deir al-Zor province.
US President Donald Trump said in December he was pulling all 2,000 US troops out of Syria, saying the battle against Islamic State there was almost won.