Islamic State defections are starting to increase due to the death toll of airstrikes according to intelligence and drone information. Reports claim the bombing efforts against the Islamic State have killed 23,000 of their soldiers since the airstrikes began in 2014.
The toll that the air strikes have been having on the Islamic State can be seen by the duties that their soldiers are now doing. Soldiers considered to be “elite” have now been forced into doing the mundane duties that are required for the Islamic State to function. The Islamic State does not have enough soldiers to do the mundane duties anymore. Over the last week alone, 90 ISIS soldiers surrendered themselves over to forces led by the Kurdish. Kurdish forces have been able to advance against the Islamic State and take control of key areas once held by them. Islamic State checkpoints are no longer able to be guarded to the capacity that they once were. All of this intelligence added up makes it clear that the bomb strikes against the Islamic State are clearly working.
Army Colonel, Steve Warren, the top spokesman for the counter-ISIL coalition in Baghdad urges caution in regards to the intelligence report. Warren held a meeting with soldiers in Iraq last week and he stated that the intelligence on the Islamic State and their shortage of soldiers were essentially stories that have been passed on. However, he claimed, there is considerable training being seen on the resources that the Islamic State once had. This information was passed on my a soldier at the meeting speaking on the terms of anonymity.
Brookings Institution military expert Michael O’Hanlon spoke with USA Today about these reports.
“I view those as provisional signs of progress. Individual metrics like these can be deceptive. I’d tend to agree with CENTCOM that these anecdotes and snippets of information sound promising, but just remain a bit more skeptical until we see some more indicators and see what happens when more time passes.”
The 90 Islamic State soldiers that surrendered occurred close to the city of Kirkuk. These soldiers were not all out supporters of ISIS and were essentially forced to join them. Two weeks ago, a battle in Sinjar led by the Kurds saw the Kurds retake the village. The retaking of this village is a blow to the Islamic State due to the village’s proximity to a major ISIS supply route. A few days ago, soldiers in Iraq have the city of Ramadi surrounded. By surrounding this city, the Islamic State lost access to the last bridge that they have been using to replenish their supplies.
The current fighting force available to the Islamic State is still quite considerable. It is estimated that the Islamic State has a fighting force between 20,000 to 30,000 soldiers. ISIS still has control of key cities in Iraq, Mosul and Ramadi and also hold a large portion of Syria, sparking the Syrian refugee crisis.
Keeping tabs on the enemy death toll on the battlefield is something the Pentagon does not like to release because they feel it is not an accurate assessment of progress being made. The military, on the other hand, feels the death tool statistic is a very useful tool to have at their disposal.
Even though the Islamic State has been depleted from the bombings, they are still able to get people to join them in their jihad. The rising death toll has not stopped ISIS from releasing threats to the rest of the world.
Do you feel that progress is being made in the fight against the Islamic State? What more should be done to eradicate them completely?
[Image Via AP Photo/Osama Sami]