by WorldTribune Staff, August 11, 2016
Some 45,000 Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) jihadists “have been taken off the battlefield” as the terror organization’s area of control continues to shrink, according to the commander of the U.S.-led coalition.
“We estimate that over the past 11 months, we’ve killed about 25,000 enemy fighters. When you add that to the 20,000 estimated killed (previously), that’s 45,000 enemy (fighters) taken off the battlefield,” said Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland.
MacFarland estimated ISIL’s overall remaining strength at 15,000 to 30,000, adding the terror group is having increasing difficulties replenishing its ranks.
“The number of fighters on the front line has diminished. They’ve diminished not only in quantity but also in quality – we don’t see them operating nearly as effectively as they have in the past, which makes them even easier targets for us,” MacFarland told Pentagon reporters via a videocall from Baghdad.
“As a result, their attrition has accelerated here of late,” he added.
ISIL has lost 25,000 square kilometers (9,650 square miles) of the territory it once held, or about 50 percent of its Iraqi territory but just 20 percent in Syria.
MacFarland said the eventual recapture of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria, would signal the “beginning of the end” of the campaign.
“You don’t hear the word ‘stalemate’ anymore. That’s because over the past year with our partners, we were able to seize the initiative,” MacFarland said.
“We now talk about maintaining the momentum of the campaign in both Iraq and Syria. In other words, we spend more time thinking about what we will do to the enemy than we spend thinking about what the enemy might do to us,” he added.