By Devaditya Chakravarti*
In recent months, a good swathe of armed combatants fighting against the supposedly oppressive Assad regime in Syria has matured itself into a fighting force increasingly able to challenge the state’s control of the country and to strike at strategic targets. This has coincided with it unifying under a single command of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (hereinafter ISIS) which has very understandably assumed the ability to mount co-ordinated military operations and as a result, has captured vast swathes of lands both in Syria and Iraq. There is credible evidence to suggest that the ISIS has managed to exist under a parallel economy altogether, what with them controlling key oilfields and exporting the produce to nearby countries, like Turkey and other countries in North Africa and the Near East along with having a broad extortion racket. This has positioned the ISIS as the biggest threat to Western states since 9/11, proving itself as a daunting challenge and bringing misery to those under its oppressive rule.
The situation caused by the ISIS has proven to be a great legal hurdle for leading academicians and international law experts with respect to use of armed force and devising an appropriate response to such groups. Also, the states fighting the ISIS both from inside the Middle East and from the West treat the ISIS as merely belligerents and are not particularly keen on recognizing them as Non-State Armed Groups, which will be highlighted in greater detail in subsequent paragraphs.
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