As many as 45,000 members of the Daesh (ISIL) Takfiri group have been killed in the Middle East
during the past two years, a senior American military official says.
US Army Lieutenant General Sean MacFarland made the announcement during a press briefing on Wednesday, adding that the terrorist group has now become an easier target after losing thousands of its members.
“We don’t see them operating nearly as effectively as they have in the past, which makes them even easier targets for us, so as a result their attrition has accelerated here of late,” he noted.
The American commander attributed some of the success in the battle against Daesh to the US-led campaign that started in late 2014, claiming that the coalition has killed 25,000 terrorists over the past 11 months.
The general’s claim comes at a time when Washington is under fire for the high rate of civilian deaths arising from its airstrikes.
In late July, more than a dozen civilians were killed or injured after US warplanes conducted airstrikes in Syria’s northern province of Aleppo.
US Army General Sea McFarland (R) sitting next to US Secretary of state Ashton Carter.
Earlier that month, The Syrian Foreign Ministry confirmed that French warplanes had killed 120 civilians in a raid on the village of Tukhan al-Kubra north of Manbij, a day after American airstrikes killed 20 people there.
In another incident, two separate US-led airstrikes in Manbij killed at least 45 civilians in June.
The high rate of civilian casualties even prompted a reaction from opposition groups in Syria, who called on the US and its allies to suspend airstrikes until an investigation is completed into the deaths.
McFarland himself acknowledged that estimates of Daesh casualties were “squishy” and far from precise since the terror group could “grab a bunch of people minding their own business off the street, throw them in the back of a pickup truck and drop them off at a checkpoint with some AKs and say, ‘defend this checkpoint.’”
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimates that over 400,000 people have been killed in the conflict.
The Takfiri terrorists operating in the Middle Eastern state have suffered major setbacks over the past few months as the Syrian army has managed to liberate many key areas.