ISIS spends a lot of time celebrating their attacks on foreign soil, making them seem like overwhelming victories in their global campaign of fear. Meanwhile US special operations forces in Iraq and Syria have killed 40 ISIS fighters responsible for those attacks.
Officials from the Department of Defense told Kim Dozier of The Daily Beast that US special forces have killed those “external operations leaders, planners, and facilitators” who were part of those attacks outside the CENTCOM area of responsibility.
The use of special forces in kill or capture raids (though the capturepart tends to happen much less frequently) is a major part of the US counterterrorism plan against ISIS. Those 40 are less than half of the high-value targets that coalition forces have taken out.
The US mission also includes curtailing the terror group’s ability to recruit abroad and inhibit their ability to carry out Paris-style attacks. President Obama has ordered 250 more special operators to Iraq to support these operations.
According to Dozier’s report, the effort is seeing results. Those same defense officials estimated that ISIS’ overall fighting force is down to 19,000 – 25,000 fighters, from 33,000 in 2015. Moreover, the influx of new recruits coming into the region is down 90 percent from last year.
Dozier also reports that the Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper warned this week that ISIS cells are already in place throughout Europe. ISIS’ external operations have killed 1,000 people across 21 countries since 2015.