Attrition taking a toll on ISIL?--45,000 killed over last two years

About 45,000 jihadists have been killed in Iraq and Syria since the US-led operation to defeat the Islamic State 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 IS.

MacFarland said estimates for the overall remaining strength of IS vary from about 15,000 to 30,000 but he noted the jihadists 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 via a videocall from Baghdad.

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

Officials also estimate IS has lost 25,000 square kilometers (9,650 square miles) of the territory it once held in its self-declared "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria, or about 50 percent and 20 percent respectively in each country.
Wars of attrition like this one, tend to take longer and are usually bloodier, than a rapid combined arms operation that would overwhelm the enemy defenses and capture his territory.  It is ironic that a President to who claimed to have ended the war in Iraq would adopt such a bloody long term strategy.

Some of the attrition is self-inflicted:
200 Islamic State fighters killed for 'fleeing battlefield' found in shallow grave, say reports

An article claims that the extremist group locked their own fighters in cars filled with poisonous gas.
That is not likely to improve morale.


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