ISIS fighters, once bent on martyrdom, surrender en masse from last Iraqi stronghold

When US-backed Iraqi security forces and Iranian Shia militias cleared' ISIS's final Iraqi stronghold in Hawijah, they met with weak resistance and a massive surrender from a once-fearsome army.

In 2016 and 2015, ISIS carried out suicide attacks around the globe at a historic rate.

The terror group, founded in June 2014, demands that its militants fight or die, and often sends young men and even children on suicide bombing missions.

But as the group weakens on the ground, it seems its adherents have lost some backbone.

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ISIS's final Iraqi stronghold in Hawijah cleared
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ISIS's final Iraqi stronghold in Hawijah cleared
Members of the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) paramilitaries flash the victory gesture as they ride atop an infantry-fighting vehicle during the advance towards villages between the northern Iraqi cities of Hawija and Kirkuk on October 6, 2017, after the Iraqi forces retook Hawija from Islamic State (IS) group fighters a day before. Iraqi forces are pressing an advance up the Euphrates Valley targeting IS' last foothold in the country after it lost the longtime insurgent bastion of Hawija on October 5. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on October 6, 2017, shows an oil field located south of Hawija after it was set ablaze by Islamic State (IS) group jihadists fleeing the Iraqi government offensive on the northern town in oil-rich Kirkuk province. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture shows the remains of a rocket in Hawija on October 6, 2017, a day after Iraqi forces retook the northern city from Islamic State (IS) group fighters. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Iraqi children flash the victory sign as they receive food from a charity in a village on the outskirts of Hawija on October 6, 2017, a day after Iraqi forces retook the northern city from Islamic State (IS) group fighters. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Fighters from the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation units), backing the Iraqi forces, kick a billboard bearing the logo of the Islamic State (IS) group in Hawija on October 6, 2017, a day after the troops retook the northern city from Islamic State (IS) group fighters. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture shows a damaged building used as court by Islamic State (IS) group fighters in Hawija on October 6, 2017, a day after Iraqi forces retook the northern city from the jihadists. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
A fighter of the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) paramilitaries prays on the road next to an infantry-fighting vehicle during the advance towards villages between the northern Iraqi cities of Hawija and Kirkuk on October 6, 2017, after the Iraqi forces retook Hawija from Islamic State (IS) group fighters a day before. Iraqi forces are pressing an advance up the Euphrates Valley targeting IS' last foothold in the country after it lost the longtime insurgent bastion of Hawija on October 5. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture shows the damage at a medical centre which was used by members of the Islamic State (IS) group in Hawija on October 6, 2017, a day after Iraqi forces retook the northern city from the jihadists. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
An Iraqi woman smokes a cigarette in a village on the outskirts of Hawija on October 6, 2017, a day after Iraqi forces retook the northern city from Islamic State (IS) group fighters. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on October 6, 2017, shows an oil field located south of Hawija after it was set ablaze by Islamic State (IS) group jihadists fleeing the Iraqi government offensive on the northern town in oil-rich Kirkuk province. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Tanks and vehicles of the combined Iraqi forces and Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) paramilitaries are seen on the advance towards villages between the northern Iraqi cities of Hawija and Kirkuk on October 6, 2017, after retaking Hawija from Islamic State (IS) group fighters a day before. Iraqi forces are pressing an advance up the Euphrates Valley targeting IS' last foothold in the country after it lost the longtime insurgent bastion of Hawija on October 5. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Fighters from the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation units), backing the Iraqi forces, pose in front of a mural depicting the emblem of the Islamic State (IS) group as troops advance through Hawija on October 5, 2017, after retaking the city from Islamic State (IS) group fighters. Iraqi forces retook one of the Islamic State group's last two enclaves in the country on October 5, overrunning the longtime insurgent bastion of Hawija after a two-week offensive. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on October 6, 2017, shows an oil field located south of Hawija after it was set ablaze by Islamic State (IS) group jihadists fleeing the Iraqi government offensive on the northern town in oil-rich Kirkuk province. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on October 6, 2017, shows an oil field located south of Hawija after it was set ablaze by Islamic State (IS) group jihadists fleeing the Iraqi government offensive on the northern town in oil-rich Kirkuk province. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A fighter of the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) paramilitaries prays on the road next to an infantry-fighting vehicle during the advance towards villages between the northern Iraqi cities of Hawija and Kirkuk on October 6, 2017, after the Iraqi forces retook Hawija from Islamic State (IS) group fighters a day before. Iraqi forces are pressing an advance up the Euphrates Valley targeting IS' last foothold in the country after it lost the longtime insurgent bastion of Hawija on October 5. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A picture taken on October 6, 2017, shows an oil field located south of Hawija after it was set ablaze by Islamic State (IS) group jihadists fleeing the Iraqi government offensive on the northern town in oil-rich Kirkuk province. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture taken on October 6, 2017, shows an oil field located south of Hawija after it was set ablaze by Islamic State (IS) group jihadists fleeing the Iraqi government offensive on the northern town in oil-rich Kirkuk province. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
A shrub is seen at an oil field located south of Hawija after it was set ablaze by Islamic State (IS) group jihadists fleeing the Iraqi government offensive on the northern town in oil-rich Kirkuk province, on October 6, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Iraqi children flash the victory sign as they receive food from a charity in a village on the outskirts of Hawija on October 6, 2017, a day after Iraqi forces retook the northern city from Islamic State (IS) group fighters. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Iraqi children receive food from a charity in a village on the outskirts of Hawija on October 6, 2017, a day after Iraqi forces retook the northern city from Islamic State (IS) group fighters. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Iraqi children receive food from a charity in a village on the outskirts of Hawija on October 6, 2017, a day after Iraqi forces retook the northern city from Islamic State (IS) group fighters. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
An Iraqi woman receives food from a charity in a village on the outskirts of Hawija on October 6, 2017, a day after Iraqi forces retook the northern city from Islamic State (IS) group fighters. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture shows the damage at a medical centre which was used by members of the Islamic State (IS) group in Hawija on October 6, 2017, a day after Iraqi forces retook the northern city from the jihadists. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture shows the damage in Hawija on October 6, 2017, a day after Iraqi forces retook the northern city from Islamic State (IS) group fighters. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture shows the damage at a medical centre which was used by members of the Islamic State (IS) group in Hawija on October 6, 2017, a day after Iraqi forces retook the northern city from the jihadists. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Fighters of the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) paramilitaries are seen riding on infantry-fighting vehicles during the advance towards villages between the northern Iraqi cities of Hawija and Kirkuk on October 6, 2017, after the Iraqi forces retook Hawija from Islamic State (IS) group fighters a day before. Iraqi forces are pressing an advance up the Euphrates Valley targeting IS' last foothold in the country after it lost the longtime insurgent bastion of Hawija on October 5, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
A fighter from the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation units), backing the Iraqi forces, stands next to difused improvised explosive devices in Hawija on October 6, 2017, a day after the troops retook the northern city from Islamic State (IS) group fighters. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) paramilitaries flash the victory gesture as they ride atop an infantry-fighting vehicle during the advance towards villages between the northern Iraqi cities of Hawija and Kirkuk on October 6, 2017, after the Iraqi forces retook Hawija from Islamic State (IS) group fighters a day before. Iraqi forces are pressing an advance up the Euphrates Valley targeting IS' last foothold in the country after it lost the longtime insurgent bastion of Hawija on October 5. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Fighters from the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation units), backing the Iraqi forces, secure a street as troops advance through Hawija on October 5, 2017, after retaking the city from Islamic State (IS) group fighters. Iraqi forces retook one of the Islamic State group's last two enclaves in the country on October 5, overrunning the longtime insurgent bastion of Hawija after a two-week offensive. / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
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A US Department of Defense release on the battle for Hawijah cites "many sources reporting more than 1,000 terrorists surrendered."

Unlike the battle for Mosul, ISIS's former Iraqi capital, the terror group "put up no fight at all, other than planting bombs and booby traps," Kurdish officials told the New York Times.

Strikingly, the same officials reported that ISIS commanders have ordered their fighters to turn themselves in, on the grounds that the Kurds will take prisoners, while other opponents would be harsher.

After three years of the most hardline imaginable Islamic rule over wide swaths of Iraq, the Iraqi Security Forces fighting ISIS have admitted engaging in acts of savagery against defeated ISIS fighters.

In July, Iraqi officers said they took part in extrajudicial killings of many unarmed ISIS fighters, with one vowing a "slow death" as revenge for killing his father.

Iraq Syria ISIS map october 2017 hawijahLive UA Map

During the fight for Mosul, some ISIS militants informed on their own ranks to the Iraqi forces, leading to the group's humiliating defeat in the city.

With ISIS suffering defeat after defeat on the ground, the group has upped the aggression of its media operation in an attempt to save face. Recently the group released audio it claimed came from its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who has been repeatedly rumored killed or injured by airstrikes.

In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in recent US history, ISIS also made the dubious claim that Stephen Paddock, the gunman, was one of its followers.

US officials have shot this claim down, and ISIS's claims do not match evidence which has since emerged on Paddock's preparation for the attack.

An Iraqi Shi'ite fighter fires artillery during clashes with Islamic State militants near Falluja, Iraq, May 29, 2016.     REUTERS/Staff/File Photo Thomson Reuters

In its early months and years, ISIS enjoyed a surge of battlefield victories. They had political support in Sunni Muslim areas, where many felt disenfranchised by Iraq's Shia-run government.

But since then it has been pounded for years with airstrikes by a US-led coalition, and a wide range of militias and national armies on the ground.

With the fall of Hawijah, only a small strip of territory along Syria's border remains in ISIS's control.

NOW WATCH: Here’s what it was like to live in a city controlled by ISIS

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SEE ALSO: Here's how the US-led coalition decides when and where to hit ISIS targets in Iraq

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