Kerry: We've Killed Half of ISIS' Leaders

Thousands of militants killed, he says after coalition meeting
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 23, 2015 2:19 AM CST
Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, left, and US Secretary of State John Kerry attend a press conference in London yesterday.   (AP Photo/Stefan Wermuth, Pool)
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(Newser) – The US and its allies sought to put a good face on the coalition's deliberate campaign to roll back ISIS yesterday, boasting of having killed thousands of militants while acknowledging that ousting the group from key cities remains a distant aspiration. Speaking to reporters in London alongside the British foreign minister and Iraqi prime minister, John Kerry said nearly 2,000 airstrikes had arrested the group's momentum, squeezed its finances, killed "in the single digit" thousands of fighters, and eliminated half of the group's leadership. A US Central Command official says a conservative estimate would be 6,000 militants killed.

Kerry, at the meeting of 21 anti-ISIS coalition partners, said the group had been "definitively" halted in Iraq, even though the strategic city of Mosul remains under its control. He said Iraqi ground troops have retaken 270 square miles of territory and deprived the militants of the use of 200 oil and gas facilities, but he acknowledged that "we have decided there are things we can do more of," including beefing up efforts to halt foreign fighters, curb the group's finances, and publicly counter the group's social media presence. US intelligence officials say the pace of foreigners traveling to fight with ISIS has not slowed, and that the group's ideology is spreading.

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