The Isis terror group is still able to carry out attacks in the West despite the fact it has lost several territories in Syria and Iraq, British military officials have said.
When Isis emerged in 2014, it seized large territories across both of the Middle East countries, making Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria the repsective capitals of its self-declared Caliphate. The group has now lost most of the territories due to regional offensives led by international coalitions.
In the past few weeks, the coalitions have successfully identified and neutralised several senior Isis commanders, including "those who are enabling directly attacks in Europe, including the UK", military officials said.
However, they added that the group's leadership cell keeps moving to escape military attacks and it is still able "to mastermind terrorist activity in the West."
"It [the cell] is likely moved - we don't know for sure that it was ever in one specific location," a British military intelligence officer told Sky News.
"They're very, we call it 'operationally security aware' - so they know that if they're holed up in one building, doing one particular job from that building, then we'll soon find out," he continued.
"Key commanders will spread themselves around a place. "We saw the movement out of Raqqa from these types of people much before the Raqqa operation really started in earnest."
The remarks came days after Isis claimed responsibility for a botched bomb attack that left 30 people injured on a train at Parsons Green station, in West London.
The group often claims responsibility for attacks occurred throughout Europe on its news agency Amaq.
However, experts say it does not necessarily mean that Isis is behind every attack and claiming attacks might just be a way to boost propaganda and increase recruitment.
Equally, attackers who pledge alliance to Isis are not always part of the group, but they might be inspired by its activities.
The deadliest attacks Isis claimed responsibility for include:
- A series of coordinated attacks that left 130 people dead in Paris in November 2016.
- A truck attack that killed 84 people and injured more than 200 in Nice in July 2016.
- A truck attack on a crowded Christmas market in Berlin, Germany, that killed at least 12 people and injured another 48 in December 2016.
- In addition to the Parsons Green attack, Isis also claimed to be behind three terror attacks that occurred on British soil this year. The first left four people dead and more than 40 injured when a car rammed into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, London, in March.
- A suicide bombing killed 22 people – including children – at the Manchester Arena during an Ariana Grande concert in May.
- A knife and vehicle assault on London Bridge and at Borough Market left at eight people dead and 48 injured in June.
- Two vehicle attacks, one on crowds in the popular tourist spot of La Rambla, Barcelona, and another at the town of Cambrils killed 15 people in August 2017.