Islamic State numbers in Iraq and Syria dwindle

Islamic State numbers in Iraq and Syria dwindle

Islamic State numbers in Iraq and Syria dwindle

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said the US military will fight ISIS in Syria "as long as they want to fight".

Armed Forces Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov told a Russian media outlet the training militants at a military base at al-Tanf, a border crossing area between Syria and Iraq.

"We say that the location of the USA base is contrary to common sense, especially now, when Syrian territory has been liberated from ISIL formations. When the control [of the Syrian forces] loosened, as many as 350 militants left the area", Gerasimov said, noting that the nearby town of Al-Qaryatayn was under threat of being captured by the militants had the Russian forces not repelled the offensive. The unrest in Syria allowed ISIS, the self-styled jihadist extremist group, to control parts of the country, but the group has now lost nearly all of its territory.

In an interview with the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily, Gerasimov said that next year's developments in Syria will include "the completion of eliminating militants from Jabhat al-Nusra and its affiliates".

"They are practically Islamic State", the general said. "They change their colors, take different names - the "New Syrian Army" and others".

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In the wake of and a new hard line against the regime there, US military advisors in the region are likely to play an even more important role than they already do.

Russian Federation and the United States have set up a communications channel to reduce the chance of fighting between the two rival campaigns against ISIS.

With the collapse of the ISIS caliphate in 2017, what's left of the terrorist group in Iraq and Syria is on the run, with some fighters moving west toward Damascus into Syrian regime-controlled territory and away from where the USA -led coalition will work to defeat them.

In November, Russia's defense ministry claimed it had evidence of the US supporting ISIS.

Mr Assad's main ally Russian Federation also said on Wednesday the main battle with Islamic State in Syria was over. Iraq declared "final victory" over the group on December 9.

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