At least 60,000 terrorists fighting for ISIS, otherwise known as the Islamic State group, have been killed in the war on terror, Gen. Raymond Thomas, U.S. Commander of Special Operations, announced during a symposium in Maryland Tuesday. The numbers, drastically higher than previously reported figures, could reflect a surge in U.S.-led airstrikes, specifically in ISIS-strongholds like Raqqa, Syria, and Mosul, Iraq.
A two-year campaign against the Islamic State has escalated in recent months, U.S. officials stated. It was previously reported that 50,000 fighters were killed by December. "We have killed over 60,000," Gen. Thomas said Tuesday. "I'm not into morbid body counts, but that matters."
The U.S. and its allies have eliminated at least 75 percent of the terror group responsible for executing and inspiring a wave of recent international attacks, including multiple gun massacres in Orlando, Florida, Berlin and Istanbul, according to Brett McGurk, special envoy to the U.S.' anti-ISIS coalition.
ISIS reportedly dwindled to its lowest number of "battle ready" fighters by December, as ranks in leadership have continued to diminish. The U.S. has been aggressively targeting the Islamic State group's top-ranking leaders in recent months in airstrikes that have claimed hundreds of lives.
A wave of aerial bombardments in western Iraq killed at least 13 ISIS commanders and at least 64 lower-ranked fighters this week, though it remained unclear whether airstrikes were successful in targeting the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. As of Tuesday, al-Baghdadi wasn't included on a list of terrorists killed in recent attacks released by the Iraqi air force.
"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," Gen. Thomas said. The commander also stated Tuesday that President Donald Trump's administration had been given updated intelligence and suggestions in its fight against ISIS, but was concerned over the federal government's internal affairs.
"Our government continues to be in unbelievable turmoil," Gen. Thomas continued. "I hope they sort it out soon because we're a nation at war."