The US-led military coalition in Iraq has killed more than 8,500 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters since its bombing campaign began in August, the top general overseeing the coalition said Tuesday.
Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, the commander of US Central Command, said the ISIL, which has controlled key parts of northern and western Iraq since last summer, is no longer capable of seizing and holding new territory.
“He has assumed a defensive crouch in Iraq,” Austin told the House Armed Services Committee.
Austin said that in addition to killing at least 8,500 ISIL fighters, the US.-led bombing has destroyed “hundreds” of the group’s vehicles, tanks and heavy weapons. The bombing also has degraded the group’s ability to generate revenue by striking oil refineries and crude oil collection sites, particularly in neighboring Syria.
“The fact is that he can no longer do what he did at the outset, which is to seize and to hold new territory,” Austin said.
Austin made the remarks in his prepared statement at a hearing on US President Barack Obama’s request for new legal authority to execute the military campaign against the ISIL. Austin is a former commander of US forces in Iraq.