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Over the course of a year, however, the summer tends to be the slower part of the sports calendar. There just is not as much going on. This year, there is one event that is capturing all the headlines. That event is of course...the Washington Capitals’ signing of Devante Smith-Pelly. The signing was so massive that boxer Floyd Mayweather took time away from the promotional tour to pose with the newest Capital.

The Aug. 26 bout between Mayweather and Conor McGregor may be the biggest fight in history despite pitting arguably the best boxer in history in a boxing match against...someone who doesn’t box. But I digress. The fight has captured everyone’s attention, including Smith-Pelly and Hershey Bears free agent forward Christian Thomas who managed to snap a picture with Mayweather in Toronto during the promotional tour.

The ‘caliphate’ is all but lost, yet Islamic State’s threat remains potent

For a time, the caliphate really did exist: a terrifying medieval prophecy sprung to life and captured in the pitiless freeze-frames of propaganda videos. Even as U.S.-led forces in Iraq and Syria deal decisive blows to Islamic State, the group remains a potent threat.

ensconced amid the looted bank vaults of Mosul and on the killing fields of Raqqah,In 2014, it subjugated millions, Islamic State was at the apex of its strength. From its twin bases in Iraq and Syria, bestrode the cyberspace battlefield, dispatched operatives to strike the capitals of Europe, and beheaded captive Americans and other foreigners whom the world’s mightiest militaries were powerless to pluck to safety.

Now an all-but-stateless Islamic State — largely driven from Mosul, and besieged in its self-declared capital, Raqqah — might seem poised for oblivion.

But longtime observers warn that the group’s virulent ideology is still very much alive,[url=]adidas Claude Giroux jersey[/url], along with its ability to threaten both the immediate region and the wider world.

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“It’s on its way to losing the caliphate, but that’s not the end of the story, a fellow with the Washington-based Tahrir Institute, who has written widely about the group. “It’s a different story now,” said Hassan Hassan, with a different plot.”

In May of last year, the group’s then-spokesman, as U.S.-backed forces were seizing large chunks of Islamic State’s territory, Abu Mohammad Adnani — who would die a few months later in a fiery U.S. airstrike — shrugged off these losses as part of a divine plan that would leave the group ultimately victorious.

“Do you think, that defeat is the loss of a city or land?” he asked mockingly. “Defeat is to lose the will to fight... and you will only win, America, America, if you rip the Koran from our hearts.”

The nine-month battle of Mosul, is all but done. But the price in what was once Iraq’s second city has been heavy, where Iraqi forces are clearing out the last jihadist strongholds in the city’s western half, both in lives lost and the immense scope of destruction.

Swaths of Mosul’s storied Old City are now a denuded landscape. Railings and signs dangle from buildings reduced to crumbled masonry. Surviving civilians, welcome coalition soldiers as liberators, still terrified, but gesture — numbly yet insistently — toward ruins under which loved ones lie buried.

In the few structures still standing, remnants of Islamic State’s rule still can be seen. Here, one with a special prayer for patients healing from wounds and injuries. There, an explosives belt with its detonator parts scattered. On a battered wall, a scatter of charred religious pamphlets, a smear of graffiti with a signature Islamic State slogan: "Baqiyah wa tatamadad" or “Enduring and Expanding.”

That would seem a tall order for the group at this juncture, but Islamic State has made resilience its trademark.

Even before Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abbadi traveled to Mosul this week to proclaim victory in the fight to retake the city, melting into desert hinterlands on the Syria-Iraq border,[url=]Authentic Claude Giroux jersey[/url],[url=]adidas Shayne Gostisbehere jersey[/url], the group already was reverting to its roots as an insurgency, launching hundreds of attacks from areas that had been deemed primarily pacified.

“They’ve got a playbook for this that they’ve used before,[url=]Authentic Shayne Gostisbehere jersey[/url],[url=]adidas Mario Lemieux jersey[/url],[url=]Authentic Jakub Voracek jersey[/url],[url=]adidas Evgeni Malkin jersey[/url], a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the author of a recent book about the group. “They go to ground. In territory they don’t control, they try to blend in. They carry out assassinations and terror attacks,[url=]Authentic Evgeni Malkin jersey[/url],” said William McCants, and prepare for a comeback.”

The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point in a report last month found that Islamic State as of April had launched 1, resulting in nearly 2,468 attacks in 16 cities that had been “liberated” from its control,600 deaths.

The largest number was in West Mosul, which saw 130 attacks in the 30 days that followed that part of the city’s recapture from Islamic State.

A recent case in point is the eastern Syrian town of Mansoura, among the areas freed by coalition forces. Displaced families from areas still controlled by Islamic State have swelled its original population of about 12,000 to more than four times that. On street corners and the walls of former government buildings, about 50 miles from Raqqah, the group’s telltale black-and-white signs have yet to be painted over.

A local leader of the Kurdish forces known as the People’s Protection Units, acknowledged that many in the town still live in fear of the militants. Women still wear black full-body gowns, or YPG, with heads and faces covered.