Voice Of America
Fears Grow Islamic State's Foreign Fighters Ready to Carry On
by Jeff Seldin
WASHINGTON — Even as the Islamic State’s caliphate was clinging to life with its last defenders cornered in a small town in northeastern Syria, the terror group managed to shock those who would eventually see it die.
Instead of waiting out about 1,000 civilians and 300 or so hard-core IS fighters who had retreated to Baghuz, the U.S.-led coalition watched for weeks in late February and March, as upwards of 30,000 civilians and 5,000 fighters, slowly surrendered.
“Very much unanticipated,” a senior U.S. defense official said at the time, describing what he called “the magnitude of humanity” flowing out of the terror group’s final shred of territory.
“We continue to be surprised by the numbers,” the official added.
But when it comes to the Islamic State terror group, numbers have always been a challenge for the United States and its partners, starting with their first efforts to measure the terror group’s appeal to would-be jihadists from across the globe.