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Fewer foreign fighters joining ISIS, commander says

Fewer foreign fighters joining ISIS, commander says
© Getty Images

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters are suffering from low morale, and a dramatically decreased influx of foreign fighters, a top U.S. commander in Baghdad said Tuesday. 

"We're seeing the morale of the enemy beginning to deteriorate at a fairly increasing rate," said Air Force Maj. Gen. Peter Gersten, deputy commander for operations and intelligence for the war coalition's task force.  

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Gersten said a year ago, there were between 1,500 and 2,000 foreign fighters per month joining ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Now, he said, that number is down to about 200 per month.  

"We are seeing, through other sources, that Daesh cannot pay their foreign fighters. They are trading vehicles now for pay. Some fighters aren't being paid at all is what we're seeing," Gersten said. 

In addition, some of them are going to extreme measures to defect, he said. 

"As we went further out to the Euphrates River Valley, we saw Daesh trying to defect coming into playing themselves as refugees, playing themselves dressed as women," he said, using a derogatory Arabic name for the terrorist group. 

"That's the kind of cowardice we're dealing with," he added. 

Gersten said the weakened morale shows that the coalition's efforts against the terrorist group are working. 

"We're seeing a fracture in their morale. We're seeing their inability to pay," he said. "We're seeing the inability to fight. We're watching them try to leave Daesh. In every single way, their morale is being broken."