Defense

Report: ISIS no weaker after a year of airstrikes

American intelligence agencies believe that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is no weaker in the year since the U.S. began its bombing campaign, the Associated Press reports.

“We’ve seen no meaningful degradation in their numbers,” an anonymous defense official told the AP, adding that the group’s likely strength of between 20,000 and 30,000 people hasn’t diminished from last year.

{mosads}Some analysts told the AP that it could take 10 years to push ISIS out of its territory without boots on the ground, a policy the administration has repeatedly sworn against following the fatigue from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The report notes some successes by the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS. The coalition retook about 9 percent of Islamic State territory this year, according to the monitoring group IHS, and is continuing to push towards the group’s hub of Raqqa, Syria. American special operations forces have also gleaned intelligence from raids that resulted in the killing or capturing of key ISIS leaders.

“The pressure on Raqqa is significant, and it’s an important thing to watch, but looking at the overall picture, ISIS is mostly in the same place,” Harleen Gambhir, a counterterrorism analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, told the AP.

“Overall ISIS still retains the ability to plan and execute phased conventional military campaigns and terrorist attacks.”

The assessment comes counter to the assertion by Gen. John Allen at a national security forum in Colorado last week that ISIS is “losing” its fight against coalition forces.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) called for boots on the ground during a speech in Washington last week, where he said that the U.S. is “losing the war against ISIS and the wider war against Islamic terror.”

Assistant Treasury Secretary for Terrorist Financing Daniel Glaser has said that ISIS has “plenty of money,” including $500 million per year in oil sales and $1 billion taken from banks. He added that the terror group’s yearly payroll could be as high as $360 million each year.

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