Number of ISIS Fighters Has Swelled to as Many as 31,500, CIA SaysPosted: September 11, 2014 Filed under: Breaking News, Global, Religion, War Room | Tags: Barack Obama, Catherine Herridge, Central Intelligence Agency, Fox News Channel, Iraq, ISIS, Islamic state, Obama, Syria Leave a comment
The CIA said Thursday that the number of Islamic State fighters has grown to as many as three times previous estimates; a day after President Obama announced he is drastically expanding the U.S. military campaign against the militants.
“This new total reflects an increase in members because of stronger recruitment since June following battlefield successes and the declaration of a caliphate, greater battlefield activity, and additional intelligence.”
A spokesperson for the agency told Fox News that new assessments show that the militant group can muster between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters across Iraq and Syria.
“The new numbers are a big jump from the agency’s previous estimate that there were at least 10,000 Islamic State fighters.”
The spokesperson said the new figures were determined after a review of “all-source intelligence reports” on the group from May to August.
Obama announced Wednesday that he is launching an unequivocal campaign to destroy the Islamic State, and described a four-point “counterterrorism” strategy to fight the militants…(more)
More, from CNN:
Mass executions and videotaped beheadings, including those of two American journalists, have led to the push for a broader counterterrorism mission, including possible airstrikes in civil war-torn Syria.
More than 15,000 foreign fighters, including 2,000 Westerners, have gone to Syria, a CIA source told CNN on Thursday. The fighters come from more than 80 countries, the source said.
It’s not immediately clear whether these were primarily ISIS fighters or were dispersed among a number of groups fighting the Syrian government.
The news came a day after President Barack Obama laid out his plan to “dismantle and ultimately destroy” ISIS, including authorizing airstrikes.
The details about the increased number of fighters also came the same day news broke that the United States has begun surveillance flights over Syria, which a U.S. official told CNN is part of an effort to gather intelligence that will help the decision whether to launch airstrikes against ISIS…(more)
Fox News & CNN‘s Jim Sciutto, Jamie Crawford and Chelsea J. Carter
Fox News’ Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.
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