Tags: ISIS | Islamic State | recruits | bombs

Report: New ISIS Recruits Replace Ones Killed by US Bombs

By    |   Thursday, 05 February 2015 06:05 PM EST

The U.S.-led bombing campaign is doing little to stop foreign fighters joining the jihadist war in Iraq and Syria, The Daily Beast reports.

U.S. officials said about 4,000 foreign radicals have joined the conflict since the allied airstrikes began nearly as many combatants as coalition forces claimed to have killed.

It raises concern that the Islamic State (ISIS) may be able to continue replenishing its ranks with jihadist recruits for years or even decades to come.

"The numbers are not moving in our favor," Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker said last week. The Tennessee Republican spoke following a closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill with retired Marine Gen. John Allen, President Barack Obama's envoy overseeing the campaign against the Islamic State.

According to Corker, when the strength of the U.S.-backed Syrian rebels is compared to that of the Islamic State fighters, "we are losing now in numbers."

The Defense Department says it has killed 6,000 enemy fighters since beginning airstrikes about five months ago.

But the intelligence community estimates that since September, 4,000 foreign fighters joined jihadist ranks. An estimate published last week in The Washington Post put the number higher, at about 5,000.

And those numbers do not include the number of in-country recruits that have joined the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which could easily be in the thousands.

U.S. officials won't provide estimates of the number of new fighters entering Iraq and Syria, "but there are quiet concerns that the terror group isn’t significantly smaller than when the coalition airstrikes began," the Daily Beast reported. "It may have even grown."

Experts question the reliability of the Pentagon's "kill" estimates, arguing that drones and other forms of air power cannot accurately provide information on the number of Islamic State operatives killed.

The only way to confirm whether airstrikes are killing substantial numbers of jihadists is to have "boots on the ground or eyeballs on the target," said Christopher Harmer, an analyst with the Institute for the Study of War.

But "as long as ISIS shows the ability to continue to recruit foreign fighters, and regenerate lost manpower, then it’s an irrelevant metric," Harmer added. "I don’t know how long ISIS can sustain battlefield damage… but so far they haven’t collapsed."

The "bottom line," said Rep. Adam Schiff of California, ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, is that foreign jihadists continue flowing into Iraq and Syria to join the fighting.

"We have not been nearly successful enough in stemming that flow," the Democrat added.

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The U.S.-led bombing campaign is doing little to stop foreign fighters joining the jihadist war in Iraq and Syria, The Daily Beast reports.
ISIS, Islamic State, recruits, bombs
Thursday, 05 February 2015 06:05 PM
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