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World

AFP
August 10, 2016
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45,000 Daesh fighters killed in past two years: US general  

45,000 Daesh fighters killed in past two years: US general   

WASHINGTON: About 45,000 militants have been killed in Iraq and Syria since the US-led operation to defeat Daesh group began two years ago, a top general said Wednesday.

"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," said Lieutenant General Sean MacFarland, who commands the US-led coalition campaign against Daesh.

MacFarland said estimates for the overall remaining strength of Daesh vary from about 15,000 to 30,000 but said the militants are having increasing difficulties replenishing their ranks.

"The number of fighters on the front line has diminished. They´ve diminished not only in quantity but also in quality -- we don´t see them operating nearly as effectively as they have in the past, which makes them even easier targets for us," MacFarland told Pentagon reporters from Baghdad via a videocall.

"As a result their attrition has accelerated here of late," he added.

Officials also estimate Daesh has lost 25,000 square kilometers (9,650 square miles) of the territory it once held in Iraq and Syria, or about 50 percent and 20 percent respectively in each country.

The US-led military effort against Daesh started exactly two years ago, aimed at halting the militants as they swept across Iraq and Syria.

MacFarland was upbeat about the eventual recapture of Mosul in Iraq and Raqa in Syria, saying it would herald the "beginning of the end" of the campaign.

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