US General Thomas Weidley said Tuesday that air strikes conducted by the U.S. led anti-ISIS coalition in Iraq have forced militants from ISIS to retreat to Syria.
Weidley, the Chief of Staff of the joint international task force targeting ISIS, said that the air strikes had proven successful in the fight against ISIS.
"The Coalition exists to counter Daesh [ISIS] in Iraq [and] Syria. Those operations [conducted] in Syria enable Iraqi Security Forces, as they force Daesh to reallocate their resources to the Syrian theater," said Weidley.
The anti-ISIS coalition began its air strikes against ISIS on Sep. 23 2014 as the militant group began expanding further into Iraq and Syria, taking hold of more than a third of both countries’ territory.
Since the start of the international fight against ISIS, dubbed Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S. has spent a daily average of $8.5 million - totaling in $1.96 billion in military expenditure as of April 8 - to destroy 5,784 targets.
The anti ISIS coalition’s last spree of strikes saw allied forces conduct 46 strikes from April 19- 21.
Weidley’s statement corroborated that of Canadian Foreign Minister Rob Nicholson who in March said ISIS fighters were on the retreat across Iraq.
“We have seen, as ISIL [ISIS] has been degraded within Iraq, that they have been moving heavy equipment and personnel into Syria, and they cannot or should not be given a free ride just because we disagree with the government in Syria,” said Nicholson, expressing concerns that the coalition was not doing enough to target ISIS in Syria.
Nicholson’s worries come as the coalition’s success against ISIS in Iraq was assisted by ground efforts by Iraqi armed forces, Kurdish Peshmerga and Iranian backed Shiite militias.
The U.S. and other coalition partners are at odds with the Assad regime in Syria, where ISIS was able to capture large portions of the country’s east due to the half-decade of ongoing civil war, claiming the northern city of Raqqa as its unofficial capital.
Unlike Iraq, in Syria the international coalition has not supported any faction adequately enough to combat ISIS entities, with the few rebel groups which are receiving international support struggling to stay afoot due to ISIS and regime offensives against them.