I have been reading about the situation in Syria and Iraq for several months. The word "control" gets mentioned a lot. What is its precise meaning, or in other words, when do you say that a certain entity is in control of a certain territory?
In particular, I find some statements like these quite perplexing:
- Aleppo is under mixed control of the Syrian Government and the Syrian Rebels. – How could a city be under "mixed" control of opposing forces?
- ISIS declared control over al Raqqa. – How does a non-state declare to be in control, and why did everyone agree with them?
- Iraqi Government wants to retake control of Mosul from ISIS. – Great idea, but how do they know when they are done?
I would imagine that the presence of an army can be neither a necessary nor sufficient condition to be in "control". I have tried searching through several historical texts and online documents, but they all seem to handwave this and sort of assume that it is clear who is in "control".