Two updates on the fight against ISIS. via USA Today.
The Islamic State has lost 45% of the territory it once held in Iraq and 20% of areas it controlled in Syria, according to new estimates by a U.S.-led coalition combating the extremist group.I am mystified. Territory means nothing when you're operating in the desert. Villages, Towns and Cities count...everything else is just open spaces that need to be crossed. The part about fighting ISIS in Syria is also confusing. What is the objective there...Assad or ISIS?
Those slow but steady battlefield losses in Iraq are prompting the Islamic State to strike back against civilians with terrorist bombings, the latest killing dozens in Baghdad on Tuesday.
The territory seized by Iraqi forces, aided by coalition airstrikes and advisers, is up from 40% announced earlier this year, according to the latest estimates. The percentages are based on areas the militants controlled at their peak strength after they swept into Iraq in 2014.
In Syria, the Islamic State's losses are up from the coalition's estimates of 10% to 15% of areas it controlled earlier this year. The group's de facto capital is in Syria, where the Islamic State, other rebel groups and the Syrian government have waged a five-year-long civil war.
In recent weeks, U.S.-aided Iraqi forces pushed militants out of towns in western Iraq’s Euphrates River valley as they consolidated gains made last December, when Iraq’s army retook the city of Ramadi.
Iraqi forces have begun operations around Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, in preparation for a major offensive to drive the militants out.
Progress has been slower in Syria, where the U.S.-led coalition cobbled together rebel groups to build a ground force capable of taking on the Islamic State. The size of that force is growing and the Pentagon reported a string of recent successes in northeastern Syria.
Then check this out from the AP.
The number of Islamic State militants in Libya has doubled in the last year or so to as many as 6,000 fighters, with aspirations to conduct attacks against the U.S. and other nations in the West, the top U.S. commander for Africa said Thursday.I don't see a coherent strategy. The fight in Syria is a confused mess, the fighting in Iraq is taking entirely too long considering the force that we're facing and Libya has the hallmark of being a new nation building/counter insurgency debacle.
Army Gen. David Rodriguez, head of U.S. Africa Command, said that local Libya militias have had some success in trying to stop the Islamic State from growing in Benghazi and are battling the group in Sabratha. But he said that decisions to provide more military assistance to the Libyans await a working national government.
The latest numbers for IS in Libya make it the largest Islamic State branch of eight that the militant group operates outside Iraq and Syria, according to U.S. defense officials. The officials were not authorized to provide details of the group and spoke only on condition of anonymity.
The U.S. has conducted two airstrikes in Libya in recent months targeting Islamic State fighters and leaders, but Rodriguez said that those are limited to militants that pose an "imminent" threat to U.S. interests. He said it's possible the U.S. could do more as the government there takes shape.
The U.S. and its allies are hoping that a U.N.-brokered unity government will be able to bring the warring factions together and end the chaos there, which has helped fuel the growth of the Islamic State. The U.S. and European allies would like the new government to eventually work with them against IS.
We're playing wack-a-mole in the Middle East without a clear reason why or a plan to eventually win.