Over 45,000 ISIS fighters have been “taken off the battlefield” in the past two years, according to the top U.S. Commander for the fight against ISIS. Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland states that military campaigns in Iraq and Syria has reduced the total number of ISIS fighters to as low as 15,000. MacFarland went on to state that both the quantity and quality of ISIS fighters is declining as the terrorist organization loses ground on all fronts.
Officials went on to speculate that ISIS has also relinquished 9,650 square miles of territory between Syria and Iraq. He stated that, that while the fight is far from over, the recent losses could allow the U.S. coalition to retake the cities of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria. An increase in bombing raids and aggressive tactics by local forces have decimated ISIS’ ranks in the past year. Macfarland commented on the staggering number of terrorists killed, he stated:
“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,”
Estimates from earlier this year put the number of ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq at approximately 19,000 to 25,000. The most recent estimate has reduced those numbers to 15,000 and 19,000. Macfarland told reporters during a video conference that resistance is notably weaker, he stated:
“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,”
Macfarland believes that the coalition is killing off ISIS members faster than the terrorist group can recruit potential Jihadi’s. Their weakened numbers have allowed Libyan forces to recapture the city of Sirte, Libya and he states that Mosul, Iraq will be liberated from ISIS control in a matter of weeks. Small pockets of resistance fighters remain in the city, however, the size of their forces are rapidly shrinking due to attrition and it is only a matter of time before they are overrun.