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US Official: 10,000 Militants Killed During Anti-IS Campaign

by VOA News June 03, 2015

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that the military campaign to stop the Islamic State group has killed more than 10,000 of its fighters.

His comments to France's Inter radio came a day after he and officials from other coalition partners met in Paris with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to discuss their strategy to fight the Islamic State group.

​​The U.S. began leading a campaign of airstrikes against Islamic State targets last August in support of Iraqi ground troops, and a month later expanded to bombing sites in neighboring Syria.

Those airstrikes -- an average of 14 per day -- have helped pro-government forces reclaim some areas, but the militants continue to make gains, including seizing the western Iraqi city of Ramadi last month.

Blinken said Tuesday that despite some setbacks, combining the aerial campaign with training, equipping and assisting effective local forces is a 'winning strategy.'

'Global threat'

Visiting Qatar Wednesday, U.S. General John Allen, Washington's envoy for the U.S.-led coalition, said setbacks last month in Anbar province 're-doubled' American determination to fight the militant group.

'This will be a long campaign,' Allen told the U.S.-Islamic World Forum. 'Aspects of it, like defeating Daesh's (Islamic State's) ideology, will likely take a generation or more. But we can and must rise to this challenge.'

In a wide-ranging speech he gave at the U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar Wednesday, Allen said the Islamic State group also posed a new type of threat because of its 'depravity.'

'As someone who has spent nearly four decades as a United States marine, I have come closer than many to the reality of inhumanity,' he said. 'But I have never seen before the kinds of depravity and brutality in this region that ISIL represents and, in fact, that ISIL celebrates,' he added, using an acronym for the group.

Elsewhere, the U.S. military said Wednesday that U.S. and coalition forces conducted 18 airstrikes targeting Islamic State fighters in 10 Iraqi cities in a 24-hour period since Tuesday morning. It said four airstrikes also targeted the militant group in Syria.

Lack of support claim

However, in Tuesday's meeting in Paris, Abadi said pro-government forces are not getting enough support from the international coalition.

He said before Tuesday's talks there needs to be more intelligence, and that the number of foreign fighters crossing into Iraq has not slowed down despite that being one of the goals set out by the coalition.

Participating in the conference by telephone from the United States, where he returned following an injury in a bicycle crash in France over the weekend, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told meeting participants that the defeat of Iraqi forces by Islamic State militants in Ramadi is prompting a U.S. shipment of anti-tank rockets to use against the vehicles used in suicide bombings.

Meanwhile, Iraqi authorities and medical officials said bombings Wednesday targeted public places around Baghdad, killing 11 people.

Iraq sees near-daily bombings frequently claimed by the Islamic State group. No group had claimed responsibility for Wednesday's mayhem.

Some material for this report came from Reuters, AP and AFP.

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