US officials say Daesh is losing manpower

Published November 30th, 2015 - 07:00 GMT
It remains unclear if the impact will have long term effects on the group. (AFP/File)
It remains unclear if the impact will have long term effects on the group. (AFP/File)

Defections of Daesh (ISIL) from the group and the rising death toll of its members in Iraq have begun to erode its fighting force and reduce its manpower, US military officials say.

Wholesale defections, sparsely manned checkpoints and highly trained foreign militants pressed into mundane duty indicate the strains on ISIL, said US Army Colonel Steve Warren, the top spokesman for the US-led coalition fighting ISIL.

Warren, who is based in Baghdad, cautioned that evidence of ISIL manpower shortages was largely anecdotal, but when indicators are combined, they show strains on the terrorist group's fighting force.

Top US military officials estimate that the purported US-led military campaign against Daesh has killed 23,000 extremists in Iraq, raising their death toll by 3,000 since mid-October, US Army General Lloyd Austin said last week.

However, it's too soon to tell if the growing strain on the group is a long-term trend, said Michael O'Hanlon, a military expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. "I view those as provisional signs of progress," O'Hanlon said.

"Individual metrics like these can be deceptive, especially given the difficulty of measuring things accurately,” O'Hanlon said.

Iraqi and Syrian forces have dealt ISIL blows recently on the battlefield. Over the last few days, Iraqi security forces completely surrounded Ramadi, which is under ISIL control.

ISIL has taken over swaths of land in Syria and Iraq.

A US-led coalition has been bombing purported Daesh targets in Syria and Iraq for over a year.

Russia has also been conducting airstrikes on Daesh positions at the request of the Syrian government since September 30.

Editor's note: This article has been edited from the source material

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