In the past four months, ISIS has witnessed a weakening in its authority and debilitating losses to the group on the ground that have been caused by coalition bombings of the group. This has given rise to particular factors that have further weakened the legitimacy of the group. These factors include:
1- Inter-group Fighting.
The power struggle within the group is predominantly between ISIS “settlors” which have arrived from foreign countries and hold greatest amount of authority and control within the group, as opposed to the locals of the region that have been forced to pledge allegiance to the group and are forced to adhere to such power structures and dynamics in favour of the settlors. The number of executions in the Deir Ezzor region has reached at least 100 executions. The means of such executions usually are by gunshot or by slaughtering, stoning or by throwing the victim from a highrise. The reasons for conducting such executions, according to the group, include “treason, black magic, blasphemy and adultery”.
2-Ongoing fleeing of military and political authorities
The fleeing of both military from the front lines, and political figures within ISIS is due to both inter-group hostilities in addition to the ongoing Coalition bombing of ISIS strongholds. These figures often embezzle money and flee to Turkey according to sources.
3- Mass migration
Fleeing and forced migration of locals from ISIS controlled regions due to increase in hostilities and violence. Many locals either flee outside the region entirely if granted the opportunity or escape to regime controlled areas of Deir Ezzor such as Al-Qassor or Al-Joura. In addition to daily executions, lack of food, inter-group violence and bombings, ISIS has also forced thousands in the region to undergo “Sharia Courses” in which the person undergoes a form of a crash course in extremist Islamist ideology as interpreted by ISIS for a period of time. Many are then sent to the front lines to fight.