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ISIS Has Just As Many Fighters In Iraq And Syria As It Did 4 Years Ago
The U.S.-led coalition to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria may have routed the terror group from its urban strongholds in Mosul and Raqqa, but new reports from both the Department of Defense and United Nations reveal that tens of thousands of ISIS fighters are still lurking across the war-torn countries — an army of jihadists on par with the group's peak strength in 2014.
- According to Pentagon data released part of an inspector general report for Operation Inherent Resolve and Operation Pacific Eagle–Philippines, ISIS currently has between 15,500 and 17,100 fighters in Iraq and 14,000 fighters in Syria for a total of between 29,500 and 31,100 fighters under Operation Inherent Resolve's area of responsibility.
- A report from a United Nations panel of experts circulated to the media on Monday affirmed the DoD's findings, concluding that ISIS "has up to 30,000 members roughly equally distributed between Syria and Iraq and its global network poses a rising threat," per the Associated Press.
- If that 30,000 figure sounds familiar, it should. Back in September 2014, the Central Intelligence Agency suggested that between 20,000 and 31,500 ISIS fighters were roaming between Iraq and Syria; at the height of its power, ISIS fighters numbered around 33,000.
- "Taken at face value, the U.S. government is saying ISIS has the same number of fighters in Iraq and Syria today as when the [coalition] bombing campaign began," Foundation for Defense of Democracies senior fellow Thomas Joscelyn told Voice of America.
- The UN estimate in particular includes “a significant component of the many thousands of active foreign terrorist fighters,” per the AP, noting that despite ISIS's battlefield losses, "a reduced 'covert version' of the militant group’s 'core' will survive in both countries, with significant affiliated supporters in Afghanistan, Libya, Southeast Asia and West Africa."
Ironically, U.S. Special Operations Command chief Army Gen. Raymond Thomas claimed last summer that the U.S. military had killed 60,000 to 70,000 ISIS militants since the U.S.-led coalition initiated Operation Inherent Resolve in 2014. Taken with the DoD and UN data, perhaps this is a good reminder that body counts aren't the best indicator of success on the battlefield.
'It just happened' — the Iraq War’s first living Medal of Honor recipient recalls his harrowing fight against 5 insurgents
On Nov, 10, 2004, Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia knew that he stood a good chance of dying as he tried to save his squad.
Bellavia survived the intense enemy fire and went on to single-handedly kill five insurgents as he cleared a three-story house in Fallujah during the iconic battle for the city. For his bravery that day, President Trump will present Bellavia with the Medal of Honor on Tuesday, making him the first living Iraq war veteran to receive the award.
In an interview with Task & Purpose, Bellavia recalled that the house where he fought insurgents was dark and filled with putrid water that flowed from broken pipes. The battle itself was an assault on his senses: The stench from the water, the darkness inside the home, and the sounds of footsteps that seemed to envelope him.
With the Imperial Japanese Army hot on his heels, Oscar Leonard says he barely slipped away from getting caught in the grueling Bataan Death March in 1942 by jumping into a choppy bay in the dark of the night, clinging to a log and paddling to the Allied-fortified island of Corregidor.
After many weeks of fighting there and at Mindanao, he was finally captured by the Japanese and spent the next several years languishing under brutal conditions in Filipino and Japanese World War II POW camps.
Now, having just turned 100 years old, the Antioch resident has been recognized for his 42-month ordeal as a prisoner of war, thanks to the efforts of his friends at the Brentwood VFW Post #10789 and Congressman Jerry McNerney.
McNerney, Brentwood VFW Commander Steve Todd and Junior Vice Commander John Bradley helped obtain a POW award after doing research and requesting records to surprise Leonard during a birthday party last month.
Hundreds of Marines will join their British counterparts at a massive urban training center this summer that will test the leathernecks' ability to fight a tech-savvy enemy in a crowded city filled with innocent civilians.
The North Carolina-based Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, will test drones, robots and other high-tech equipment at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville, Indiana, in August.
They'll spend weeks weaving through underground tunnels and simulating fires in a mock packed downtown city center. They'll also face off against their peers, who will be equipped with off-the-shelf drones and other gadgets the enemy is now easily able to bring to the fight.
It's the start of a four-year effort, known as Project Metropolis, that leaders say will transform the way Marines train for urban battles. The effort is being led by the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, based in Quantico, Virginia. It comes after service leaders identified a troubling problem following nearly two decades of war in the Middle East: adversaries have been studying their tactics and weaknesses, and now they know how to exploit them.
WASHINGTON/RIYADH (Reuters) - President Donald Trump imposed new U.S. sanctions onIran on Monday following Tehran's downing of an unmanned American drone and said the measures would target Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Trump told reporters he was signing an executive order for the sanctions amid tensions between the United States and Iran that have grown since May, when Washington ordered all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil.
Trump also said the sanctions would have been imposed regardless of the incident over the drone. He said the supreme leaders was ultimately responsible for what Trump called "the hostile conduct of the regime."
"Sanctions imposed through the executive order ... will deny the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader's office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office, access to key financial resources and support," Trump said.
While it can be difficult to peg down just how star-spangled a state is, one indicator is the rate at which citizens enlist in the military, especially during the United States' longest period of sustained conflict. At least, that's the thinking behind WalletHub's new study, 2019's Most Patriotic States in America.