Daesh fighters dwindle amid ‘retreat on all fronts’

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Top US authorities confirm the number of Daesh fighters has dwindled to roughly 15,000, but warn that the group remains a threat

Jeanelle MIfsud

A top US commander has claimed the military campaigns in Iraq and Syria have cut the number of Daesh militants by 45,000, reducing the total number of the terrorist fighters to as few as 15,000.

Speaking at a press conference at the Pentagon, lieutenant general Sean MacFarland said both the quality and number of Daesh fighters were declining, while warning that it was difficult to determine accurate numbers, the Guardian reports. Earlier estimates reportedly put the number of Daesh fighters at between 19,000 and 25,000 but US officials say the range is now roughly 15,000 to 20,000.

According to MacFarland “the enemy is in retreat on all fronts”, and the US-backed local forces in both Iraq and Syria has been gaining ground. “The flow of foreign fighters into Iraq and Syria had decreased and many people pressed into fighting for Daesh were unwilling or untrained,” he said.

MacFarland also cautioned that while there had been successes in both countries, Daesh would continue to be a threat. “Military success in Iraq and Syria will not necessarily mean the end of Daesh,” he said. “We can expect the enemy to adapt, to morph into a true insurgent force and terrorist organisation capable of horrific attacks.”

President Barack Obama authorised the deployment of 560 more US troops to Iraq to help transform the air base into a staging area for the eventual battle to oust Daesh from Mosul. The group has held Mosul since June 2014 and has used it as a headquarters.

The US troops is said to include engineers, logistics personnel, security and communications forces.

 

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