Top US military commander and Lieutenant General Sean MacFarland has said that ISIS is ‘retreating on all fronts’ throughout Iraq, Syria and Libya and the number of militants ISIS has at its disposal has diminished to around 15000. MacFarland claimed that military campaigns in Syria and Iraq have taken 45,000 enemy combatants off the battlefield. The number and quality of IS fighters is declining as foreign fighter numbers decrease, and people who are forced to fight are unwilling or untrained.
The claims come as US backed local forces prepare to recapture strongholds in Syria. The Syrian Democratic Forces and the Kurdish YPG Militia are on the verge of defeating ISIS in Manbij, the northern province of Aleppo. MacFarland said the city had pockets of ‘enemy resistance’ but that those were ‘shrinking daily’. He also predicted that the operation would not longer than a week or two to conclude and would deliver a decisive blow to IS.
MacFarland said Iraqi forces are now in a position to start taking back Mosul – home to ISIS’s headquarters since June 2014, but would need to wait for Qayyarah airbase to be restored. The US plan to use Qayyarah airbase to stage their attack on ISIS for the recapture of Mosul in Northern Iraq.