US: Coalition has killed 10,000 ISIL fighters

Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken says campaign to defeat group has made progress, but fighters remain resilient

More than 10,000 fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have been killed since a U.S.-led coalition launched an airstrike campaign against the armed group nine months ago, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday.

Speaking after coalition representatives met in Paris, Blinken said there had been a great deal of progress in the fight against ISIL, which has captures large swaths of territory across Iraq and Syria, but that the group remained resilient.

“We have seen a lot of losses within Daesh since the start of this campaign, more than 10,000,” Blinken said on France Inter radio, using ISIL’s Arabic acronym. “It will end up having an impact.”

So far, more than 4,100 airstrikes by the coalition have failed to stem ISIL gains.

On Tuesday, Western and Arab states carrying out the airstrikes backed Iraq's plan for retaking territory after being accused by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of not doing enough to help Baghdad defeat ISIL.

"At the start of this campaign [we] said it would take time," Blinken said. "We have conceived a three-year plan and we're nine months into it."

The 25-country coalition is doubling down on its strategy to defeat the fighters, insisting on staying the course it set last year despite ISIL’s recent conquests in Iraq and Syria.

Abadi pressed his case on Tuesday for more support from the coalition at the Paris conference, organized within weeks of ISIL's victories in the Iraqi city of Ramadi and the Syrian city of Palmyra.

The coalition has mustered a mix of airstrikes, intelligence sharing and assistance for Iraqi ground operations against the fighters. However, Abadi said more was needed.

"We will redouble our efforts," said Blinken, who was leading the delegation after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry broke his leg in a cycling accident in eastern France over the weekend. ISIL, Blinken said, "stands for nothing and depends on people who will fall for anything."

Still, Tuesday's conference offered no strategy beyond that which has yet to bear fruit, and none had been expected.

Wire services

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