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Big data being used in the battle against ISIS

ISIS might be a formidable force, but you know who they can't defeat? Robots.

Yes, that's right, artificial intelligence is getting the better of ISIS, and according to a BBC report, researchers have used it to better understand the group's tactics.

The digital brain analysed 2,200 recorded ISIS events since the second half of 2014, and the findings will be presented in a conference next week.

The analysis shows how different strategies the group uses relate to certain events on the battlefield, as well as worldwide. So, for example, it was noticed that the group switches from large infantry-stlye attacks to improvised exposive devices (IED) when facing air strikes.

Paulo Shakarian at Arizona State University, one of the co-authors of the paper and a former US army officer who served in Iraq in 2006, told the BBC: "When they experience a lot of air strikes against them they shift away from a large infantry-style operation and use IEDs."

Researchers also discovered that the use of vehicle-borne bombs increased prior to large infantry operations by the militants. One example of this occurred in Iraq.

"We believe this relationship is because they want to prevent reinforcements from the Iraqi army getting out of Baghdad," explained Dr Shakarian.

Elizabeth Quintana, director of military sciences at the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi), said forces targeting Islamic State were likely to find research like this useful.

"The military has access to a lot of information," she said, "They need a way to bring it down to a digestible format. Analytics is definitely the way to do that."

ISIS, sometimes referred to as ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or Iraq and the Levant) is a rebel group which currently controls large areas of Syria and Iraq. The group has used the security vacuum which was created after the US withdrew from Iraq, the Arabic Spring events and the civil war in Syria, to seize control of large parts of the two countries.

It aims to create a "Caliphate" state, and is known for filming war atrocities, such as burning and drowning its prisoners of war.