More than 10,000 Islamic State jihadists have been killed during the U.S.-led air campaign that began in Iraq in August 2014 and was extended to Syria the following month, said U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday.
“We have seen a lot of losses within Daesh since the start of this campaign, more than 10,000,” Blinken told France Inter radio, using the Arabic name for ISIS, reports Reuters. “It will end up having an impact.”
“At the start of this campaign [we] said it would take time,” he added. “We have conceived a three-year plan and we’re nine months into it.”
Blinken made those comments after the U.S.-led coalition met in Paris. He acknowledged that although there has been substantial progress in the war against ISIS, the jihadist group has managed to remain resilient and capable of launching attacks.
The U.S.-led coalition against ISIS, which includes Western and Arab countries, reportedly expressed support for Iraq’s plan to seize back territory from the terrorist group.
This comes after Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi accused the coalition of not doing enough to help his country combat ISIS.
A United Nations report that surfaced in April revealed an estimated 22,000 foreign fighters from over 100 countries had traveled to Iraq and Syria to join Muslim jihadist groups, with the majority of them joining ISIS.
In testimony to Congress in late February, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that there were 20,000 foreign fighters among the total ISIS-fighting force of up to 31,000.
Due to a lack of ground intelligence, the majority of U.S. pilots deployed on bombing runs against ISIS in Iraq and Syria return to base without firing their weapons or dropping any ordnance on their targets, reports The Washington Times.
Reuters contributed to this report.