A Year Later, Fight Against ISIS Has Failed To Degrade The Terrorist Group’s Influence
After a year of bombing targets in Syria and Iraq, the US policy to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State, the size of the terror group remains largely unchanged, intelligence sources tell Fox News.
ISIS is estimated to have between 20,000 and 25,000 fighters based on the new intelligence estimate, while a year ago, it was estimated to have between 19,000 and 31,000 fighters.
The intelligence report suggests there is some weakening in Iraq, where 40 percent of ISIS-controlled territory has been retaken, but only 5 percent of ISIS-controlled territory in Syria has been retaken.
However, the terror group has adapted to the increased attacks on its positions in those countries by making advances in Libya and some are pressing the Obama administration to establish an offensive there.
ISIS has taken advantage of political chaos in Libya to expand its grip on territory around the town of Sirte and the Mediterranean coast. US estimates of its forces in Libya now range between 3,000 and 6,000, about double what they were in previous years.
That estimate does not take into account the progress ISIS forces have made in recent days in their effort to retake the Syrian town of Aleppo.
“Follow ISIS and you will see the huge momentum that the group has harnessed across the globe. The government’s first step in fighting ISIS must be to stop dismissively characterizing the jihadists as a mere gang of guys in pickup trucks. It should be called what it is: a threat to global security,” Rita Katz, co-founder of the SITE Intelligence Group, tells The Washington Post’s David Ignatius.
Ignatius notes the allure of the terrorist group is proving to be potent in Indonesia and several other Asian nations with large Muslim populations.
In January, ISIS claimed credit for a terrorist attack in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta that killed seven and also issued a warning to government officials in Malaysia that it would strike if they attempted to mount a counteroffensive to the organization.