US says 45,000 ISIS terrorists removed from battlefield but terror will increase

While ISIS’ strength has been greatly diminished over the last year thanks to the US-led campaign to slow its march westward, the US admits that the group will likely survive and step up terror attacks around the globe.

The US-led counter-Islamic State (ISIS) campaign in Syria and Iraq has taken 45,000 ISIS combatants off the battlefield, reducing their number to as few as 15,000, the US commander heading the campaign stated Wednesday.

Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland said that both the quality and quantity of ISIS combatants is declining, but said it is difficult to discern their exact numbers. The estimated numbers range between 15,000 to 20,000 men.

“The enemy is in retreat on all fronts,” MacFarland stated. He said the US-backed local forces in Iraq and Syria have been progressing triumphantly.

He noted that the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq and Syria has decreased, while many locals forced to fight for ISIS are unwilling or untrained.

“All I know is when we go someplace, it’s easier to go there now than it was a year ago. And the enemy doesn’t put up as much of a fight,” he said.

MacFarland cautioned that while ISIS was on the run, it will continue to be a threat.

“Military success in Iraq and Syria will not necessarily mean the end of Daesh,” he said, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS. “We can expect the enemy to adapt, to morph into a true insurgent force and terrorist organization capable of horrific attacks like the one here on July 3 in Baghdad and those others we’ve seen around the world.”

By: World Israel News Staff
AP contributed to this report.