The Islamic State (ISIS) has nearly 30,000 members in Syria and Iraq, which are almost equally distributed in both countries. The global network of the terrorist group is a growing threat, as is the one of Al-Qaeda, a new UN Security Council report shows.

The report drawn up by experts to the UN Security Council and distributed yesterday, also points out that, in Syria and Iraq, a “hidden reduced version” of the core of the Islamic State will survive, but which has a “significant” number of supporters in Afghanistan, Libya, South Asia and West Africa.

According to the report, Al- Qaeda’s global network “continues to show endurance”, with the associated groupings and allies being much stronger than the Islamic State, including in Somalia, South Asia and the Sahel region in Africa.

Although many fighters and ISIS commanders have been killed in fights and many other fighters and supporters have left the conflict zone, the experts say a large number are still in Syria and Iraq, some struggling and “others are hiding among supporting communities and urban areas”.

The report notes that the assessment of the current number of jihadists in Iraq and Syria was received based on data from governments that are not named in the analysis. The estimated number between 20,000 and 30 000 includes “a significant component of thousands of active foreign terrorists”, the experts said.

It is to be seen whether there will be a change of the top of the organisation’s leadership after it became clear that the leader of the Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was seriously injured. He took over the leadership of ISIS in July 2014, by declaring the establishment of the Islamic Caliphate in the Middle East from the Mosul mosque.

The flow of foreign fighters to ISIS in Syria and Iraq has stopped, but the opposite trend, although slower than expected, remains a major challenge according to the report. Earlier this month, seven jihadi fighters were deported to Republic of Macedonia. They have been radicalized by preachers in a mosque in Skopje, which has been considered for years as a conductor of extreme Islamic views and a location for the recruitment of fighters for ISIS.