US: Number of ISIL fighters lowest since 2014

Pentagon ties decrease to acceleration in anti-ISIL campaign

US: Number of ISIL fighters lowest since 2014

World Bulletin / News Desk

ISIL has 19,000 to 25,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon said Tuesday, updating its estimate of 20,000 to 30,000 terrorists for the group.

“This is the lowest the number range has been since 2014,” spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement.

The Pentagon updated its estimate a few months after President Barack Obama ordered an acceleration of the campaign against the terrorist group.

The Pentagon ties the decrease in numbers to the overall effect of the recently accelerated campaign against ISIL’s financial and military assets as well as the success of local forces to close certain key routes in Iraq and Syria, blocking fighters from moving across borders.

According to Air Force Gen. Peter Gersten, the number of foreign fighters entering Iraq and Syria has significantly decreased in the past year.

Gersten said he believes that about a year ago, up to 1,500 to 2,000 foreign fighters were joining ISIL each month.

"Now we have been fighting this enemy for a year, our estimates are down to 200 [per month] and we are actually seeing now an increase in desertion rates of these fighters," he said.

The 1,000 to 5,000 decrease in fighters is a relatively small yield for the U.S. when considering the resources poured into the war against ISIL.

In last 18 months, the U.S.-led coalition has conducted more than 11,000 air strikes and aircraft have flown nearly 89,000 sorties in support of operations in Iraq and Syria.

The operations has cost the U.S. approximately $12 million to date and U.S.-led airstrikes have reportedly destroyed more nearly 23,000 ISIL targets.  

Güncelleme Tarihi: 27 Nisan 2016, 09:36