‘So-called progress’: U.S. admits ISIL is just as strong as when bombing campaign began a year ago

Almost a year after the United States began its multi-billion-dollar military campaign to defeat Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the jihadist group shows no signs of weakening, according to U.S. intelligence agencies.

Its hold on social media and flow of oil revenue means it can draw on a steady stream of recruits and has held almost all its territory, despite losing 10,000 fighters. It has managed to expand into new theatres in Libya, Egypt’s Sinai peninsula and Afghanistan.

“We’ve seen no meaningful degradation in their numbers,” a defence official said, citing estimates that put the group’s strength at 20,000 to 30,000 fighters, the same as when the strikes began last August. Continue reading