Examining Terrorist Tactics: ISIS Takes a Page From The Battle of Stalingrad

More than a month after it began, the battle for the Syrian city of Manbij drags on.

Now surrounded on all sides by a coalition of Kurds and Arabs, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, and supported by U.S. Special Operations forces as well as dozens of airstrikes, the motley assortment of troops is slowly rooting out Islamic State fighters one block at a time.

Yet, despite gains around the city, one cluster of buildings at the southern tip of Manbij has turned into a small redoubt and a symbol of the Islamic State’s determination to hold its territory. The structures, a series of grain silos, elevators and administrative buildings, have been hit by numerous airstrikes since 2014. And despite various reports of their seizure by the U.S-backed forces, they still appear either to be partially held by ISIS fighters or so laden with mines and booby traps that advancing troops are unable to enter.

The World’s 20 Most Impressive Fortresses

fortress

Mighty military strongholds from ancient castles to modern innovations.

A fortress protects and gives military personnel a safe harbor from the enemy. But not all fortresses were created equal. And they certainly weren’t all created the same. We look over time and distance to find the 20 most impressive fortresses from around the world and throughout history.

GIBRALTAR

GIB

The legendary geography at the Rock of Gibraltar includes its sheer cliff face, difficult western slope, and location at the southern tip of Europe adjacent to the Strait of Gibraltar. Britain took advantage of this by enhancing medieval structures here, arming and fortifying the top of the rock in the 16th century. Centuries of improvements, including carving tunnels into the rock for armaments, troop movement, and storage, helped Britain to withstand siege attempts. Today the land is still technically a British overseas territory.

CHEYENNE MOUNTAIN COMPLEX

Cheyenne

Home of NORAD, which monitors pretty much everything in North American airspace, the Cheyenne Mountain Complex uses the mountains around Colorado Springs as fortification. Sitting inside a hollowed-out space in the mountains, the air defense system reached the height of its mystique during the Cold War when it opened in 1967. Its 25-ton blast doors are embedded within the 1,700 feet of granite. After a complete remodel, the buried site reopened for business in 2008.

CHITTOGAHR FORT

CHITTO

The largest fort in India covered 700 acres atop a 590-foot-tall hill, complete with towers and walls that have stood since the Maurya Empire built it near the Indian city of Udaipur in the 7th century. Fort Chittorgarh, also dubbed the Fort of Chittor, has a one-mile-long twisty road leading to it with seven gateways guarded by a watch tower and iron-spiked doors. While only 22 of the original 84 bodies of water within the fort still exist, 40 percent of the fort’s space was covered by water at one time—enough of a reservoir to hold about one billion gallons of water and, with rainfall, enough to maintain an army of 50,000 for four years without fear of thirst.