(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
BAGHDAD - Fewer than 1,000 ISIS fighters remain in Iraq and Syria, the United States-led international coalition fighting the hardline Sunni militant group said on Wednesday, a third of the estimated figure only three weeks ago.
Iraq and Syria have both declared victory over Islamic State in recent weeks, after a year that saw the two countries' armies, a range of foreign allies and various local forces drive the fighters out of all the towns and villages that once made up their self-proclaimed caliphate.
The United States has led an international coalition conducting air strikes against Islamic State since 2014 when the group swept across a third of Iraq. US troops have served as advisers on the ground with Iraqi government forces and with Kurdish and Arab groups in Syria.
"Due to the commitment of the Coalition and the demonstrated competence of our partners in Iraq and Syria, there are estimated to be less than 1,000 ISIS terrorists in our combined joint area of operations, most of whom are being hunted down in the desert regions in eastern Syria and Western Iraq," the US-led coalition told Reuters in an emailed statement.