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US-backed group in Syria says it suffered more than 11,000 killed and 21,000 wounded fighting ISIS
Victory over ISIS has come at a tremendous cost for America's Kurdish and Arab allies in Syria.
More than 11,000 Syrian Democratic Forces fighters were killed and 21,000 others wounded fighting ISIS, the group announced on Saturday following the group's formal liberation of ISIS' last enclave in Syria.
"On this occasion we cannot but remember those heroes and pay tribute to the memory of the martyrs and wish the urgent recovery of their wounds, without their sacrifices we would not granted this victory," the SDF statement says.
Task & Purpose was unable to independently verify the SDF's casualty figures.
Army Lt. Gen. Paul LaCamera, commander of U.S. operations in Iraq and Syria, paid tribute Saturday to the SDF fighters as well as Iraqi troops and police who were killed while fighting ISIS.
"During this four-year campaign, thousands of Syrian Democratic Forces and Iraqi Security Forces did not return to their families," LaCamera said in a statement congratulating the SDF for its victory in Baghouz, Syria. "I pray for your losses, and for a speedy recovery of your wounded."
"We also cannot forget our coalition members who saw their last full measure of devotion in the pursuit of defeating Daesh [ISIS]," LaCamera continued. "These coalition and partner force fighters put their nation's needs before their own and defended the world against the threat of Daesh. They represented the best of their country. We must never forget their courage, dedication, and sacrifice."
A total of 73 U.S. service members have died during Operation Inherent Resolve, according to the Defense Department. Those fatalities include deaths in Jordan, Bahrain, the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, and elsewhere.
Another 77 service members have been wounded and three Defense Department civilians have died supporting operations against ISIS.
Meanwhile, the U.S. military has been hesitant to estimate how many ISIS fighters have been killed or captured since 2014.For more than a year, defense officials estimated that roughly 2,000 ISIS fighters remained in Syria, but U.S. Central Command confirmed on Saturday that the SDF had captured more than 60,000 ISIS fighters, women, and children just in the last month.
Despite the loss of its former caliphate, ISIS has not been defeated, warned Michèle Flournoy, who served as under defense secretary for policy from 2009 to 2012.
"We have seen this movie before," said Flournoy, who was expected to become defense secretary if Hillary Clinton won the 2016 presidential election. "When a terrorist organization loses territory, it usually goes to ground in order to fight another day. (This was certainly true for Al Qaeda in Iraq, ISIS' predecessor.)
"ISIS is likely to revert to the more traditional tactics of an insurgency like IEDs, suicide bombers, car bombs, assassinations and the like to disrupt stability and prevent others from consolidating control. They may be down, but we would be foolish to count them out."
Defense officials have repeatedly warned that ISIS fighters have gone to ground so they can wage an insurgency in both Syria and Iraq.
"While on occasion these cowards will resurface, they have lost all prestige and power," President Donald Trump said on Saturday. "They are losers and will always be losers."
UPDATE: This story was updated on March 25 with comments from Michèle Flournoy.
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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico has deployed almost 15,000 soldiers and National Guard in the north of the country to stem the flow of illegal immigration across the border into the United States, the head of the Mexican Army said on Monday.
Mexico has not traditionally used security forces to stop undocumented foreign citizens leaving the country for the United States, and photographs of militarized police catching Central American and Cuban women at the border in recent days have met with criticism.
Mexico is trying to curb a surge of migrants from third countries crossing its territory in order to reach the United States, under the threat of tariffs on its exports by U.S. President Donald Trump, who has made tightening border security a priority.
Packages containing suspected heroin were found in the home of the driver charged with killing seven motorcyclists Friday in the North Country, authorities said Monday.
Massachusetts State Police said the packages were discovered when its Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section and New Hampshire State police arrested Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 23, at his West Springfield home. The packages will be tested for heroin, they said.
Zhukovskyy faces seven counts of negligent homicide in connection with the North Country crash on Friday evening that killed seven riders associated with Jarhead Motorcycle Club, a club for Marines and select Navy corpsmen.
'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.