Tide Begins to Turn Against ISIS: Report

Iraqi Shi'ite fighters pose with an Islamic State flag which they pulled down on the front line in Jalawla, Diyala province, November 23, 2014. Reuters

U.S.-led airstrikes have largely halted the momentum of the jihadist group known as Islamic State, or ISIS, which swept across Iraq and Syria during the chaos of the Syrian Civil War this summer, according to a report in the Financial Times.

Unable to keep up the breakneck pace of its conquests over the summer, the group's focus has shifted from fighting to governance. "Before they were seizing territory, forcing armies in Iraq and Syria to retreat," Torbjorn Soltvedt, of a political risk analyst with a UK-based firm told FT. "Now they're basically an occupying force trying to govern."

It doesn't seem to be going well. "Local fighters are frustrated — they feel they're doing most of the work and the dying . . . foreign fighters who thought they were on an adventure are now exhausted," an opposition activist from Syria's eastern Deir Ezzor province told FT. The same activist said ISIS had executed 100 foreign fighters attempting to desert in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa.

As early as October, reports began surfacing of discontent among ISIS militants, who were reportedly tied to tanks and forced to fight.

The momentum may finally be shifting. Iraqi Kurdish forces claim to have broken the siege of Mt. Sinjar, which began eight months ago when ISIS fighters attempted to trap and kill members of the Yazidi ethno-religious minority group on the mountain.