SpecOps Commander: U.S.-Led Coalition Forces Have Killed 60,000 ISIS Militants

Iraq Mosul

Iraqi special forces troops prepare for the next stage in battle against ISIS militants / AP

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American-led coalition forces fighting in Iraq and Syria have killed more than 60,000 Islamic State jihadists over the past two years, the commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command announced Tuesday.

The number marks a 20 percent increase from December, when U.S. officials said that 50,000 ISIS militants had been killed, Military.com reported.

Army Gen. Raymond Thomas said the rise signifies the campaign's progress in degrading the terrorist group.

"I'm not into morbid body counts, but that matters," Thomas said at a National Defense Industrial Association conference in Maryland. "So when folks ask, do you need more aggressive [measures], do you need better [rules of engagement], I would tell you that we're being pretty darn prolific right now."

The announcement arrives as U.S.-led coalition forces ramp up its offensive to retake Raqqa, the de facto capital of ISIS in Syria. Thomas said the United States and its partners are "on the verge" of driving the group from the city.

The Iraqi army, backed by U.S. air power, is meanwhile readying an operation to retake the western half of Mosul from ISIS. Eastern Mosul was declared "fully liberated" in January.

Last month, President Donald Trump directed Defense Secretary James Mattis to provide within 30 days a strategy that more aggressively attacks ISIS in Syria. Officials said the plan could include deploying U.S. artillery on the ground in Syria and Army attack helicopters to assist in the Iraqi offensive to retake Raqqa.

Mattis has until Feb. 27 to meet Trump's deadline.

Natalie Johnson

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Natalie Johnson is a news writer at the Washington Free Beacon. Prior to joining the Free Beacon, she was a news reporter at the Daily Signal. Johnson’s work has been featured in outlets such as Newsweek, Fox News and Drudge Report. She graduated from James Madison University in 2015 with a B.A. in political science and journalism. She can be reached at johnson@freebeacon.com. Her twitter handle is @nataliejohnsonn.