At least 50,000 fighters belonging to the Islamic State group, also called ISIS, have been killed by U.S.-led coalition forces in the last two years in which coalition troops have been battling the terrorist group in Iraq and Syria, a U.S. military official said. The official, who wasn't authorized to speak publicly on the matter, told a small group of reporters, the figure was a "conservative estimate." However, the U.S. has warned that ISIS can replace fighters quickly. The official added that coalition airstrikes may be more aggressive in places like Mosul where Iraqi forces are fighting ISIS to liberate the city from its clutches. The U.S., the official said, is concerned about fighters going into hiding.
U.S.-backed fighters on Thursday closed all major roads leading to the northern Syrian town of Manbij, a stronghold of the Islamic State group, and surrounded it from three sides, officials and Syrian opposition activists said. The upcoming battle against the extremists for the town has forced many residents to flee; Manbij is one of the largest areas Islamic State holds in the northern province of Aleppo. It is a key waypoint on an Islamic State supply line between the Turkish border and the extremist group's de facto capital, Raqqa. If the U.S.-backed Syria Democratic Forces capture Manbij, it will be the extremists' biggest defeat in Syria since government forces captured the central historic town of Palmyra in March. The U.S. Central Command said the operation to free Manbij is part of the "moderate Syrian opposition" efforts to clear areas along the border with Turkey from Islamic State control.
WASHINGTON – The U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group in eastern Syria said Monday that it had bombarded a mosque believed to be a military command post for the jihadis -- the second such strike in a week. The coalition said that on Monday, it had "destroyed several buildings" used by IS fighters to "launch attacks against Syrian Democratic Force partners" in the village of Sousa. One of the buildings was a "mosque that was being used as a defensive fighting position and command center," it said in a statement, adding that several IS fighters had been killed as they fired on coalition forces. The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are battling the jihadis in the region. The SDF has chased IS out of swaths of Syria's north and east.
NEAR BAGHOUZ, SYRIA - Jihadi fighters made a desperate last stand in eastern Syria on Wednesday, while their wives and children fled the final, blood-soaked implosion of the Islamic State group's "caliphate." The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces on Saturday launched a final push to expel IS fighters from the sole remaining morsel of the proto-state they declared in 2014 across parts of Syria and Iraq. Thousands of people have flooded out of the "Baghouz pocket" near the Iraqi border in recent days -- mostly women and children, but also suspected jihadis. Several dozen people fled Baghouz on Wednesday afternoon, walking to an SDF-held position 4 km (2 miles) away from the village. As they approached, the SDF rushed down to filter out the men.
Mala Qara Village, Iraq - A pair of armoured vehicles parked in a corner of the Peshmerga headquarters in northern Iraq form a stark reminder of the threat the region is facing by ISIL. "They were full of explosives when we captured them," Kurdish Peshmerga commander General Sirwan Barzani said, as he discussed the battle his forces fought two years ago against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS). ISIL fighters came within 25km of Erbil, the capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, before the Peshmerga got the upper hand in continuous battles, retaking control of towns in the region from 2014 to 2016. While ISIL has since been driven from Mosul and other towns and villages in northern Iraq, they are still active in the area, Barzani said. The current Kurdish-run Peshmerga front line is situated along the high ridge running north from the town of Makhmur, about 65km southwest of Erbil to Gwer, behind which ISIL fighters are hiding in the caves and on cliff faces on steep hills, Barzani said; it is terrain that makes it difficult to dislodge them.