Desperate to claim some “progress” in the ongoing ISIS war, US defense officials are claiming that their assessment on the size of the ISIS force between Iraq and Syria has declined, and that the best estimates are now between 19,000 and 25,000 fighters.
In 2014, the intelligence estimate was that they believed there were around 20,000 ISIS fighters, though they later conceded that it could’ve been “as high as 31,000,” though there was never really a good effort to square the rather broad estimates.
In that regard, the claim of declining fighters might simply be untrue, with the 2016 estimate just the lower half of the over-broad 2014 estimate. US officials say they aren’t sure the reason of this, but say it could be a combination of the massive number of people they’re killing in airstrikes and efforts to make it harder to get into Syria.
The estimate also does not account for the soaring number of ISIS fighters outside of Iraq and Syria, with large numbers now in Libya, and significant affiliates also setting up shop in Yemen and Afghanistan. All told, ISIS is definitely getting bigger.