After a year in which U.S.-backed forces drove ISIS militants from strongholds in Iraq and Syria, experts warn that the terrorist group will remain a threat in 2018 as what some call a "virtual caliphate," NBC News reported.
In 2017, forces retook the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of ISIS. And by December, the U.S. said 97 percent of ISIS-held territory in Iraq and Syria had been liberated, and Iraq declared its war against the group over.
However, analysts say the military campaign only addressed the territorial aspect of ISIS and that the group is retreating into a "virtual caliphate," where it will attempt to remain relevant and inspire more lone wolf attacks. This "proto-state," one expert says, is "what it knows best."
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"It's like a cornered cat that will lash out indiscriminately and viciously to save itself," said Peter Vincent, a counterterrorism expert and former Department of Homeland Security official. "The war has yet to be won, and if it's ever going to be won it's going to take many more years, and many more civilians will lose their lives."