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US: Air Strikes Having 'Profound Effect' on IS

by VOA News June 05, 2015

U.S military officials say coalition air strikes are having 'a profound effect' on Islamic State militants in Iraq and that the coalition is 'taking the enemy off the battlefield in significant numbers.'

Lt. Gen. John Hesterman, chief of the air campaign, said Friday that he doesn't believe IS is making major advances around the country.

'Every now and again they make a tactical advance, and then we play it like a strategic victory, and its not,' he said.

His comments come days after U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the military operation against IS killed more than 10,000 militant fighters in less than a year.

Hesterman said Friday the military operation is taking fighters off the battlefield at a 'great rate,' but he allowed that efforts like stopping the flow of foreign fighters may be more important.

​​The United States began leading a campaign of airstrikes against Islamic State targets last August as Iraqi ground troops attempted to push back an IS land-grab. A month later, the coalition expanded to bombing sites in neighboring Syria.

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

Earlier this week in Paris, Iraq's prime minister Haider al-Abadi had said his pro-government forces are not getting enough support from the international coalition.

Al-Abadi, who was speaking before the strategy meeting with coalition foreign ministers began, said there needs to be more intelligence, and the number of foreign fighters crossing into Iraq has not slowed down, despite a coalition goal to block them from joining the Islamic State group.

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