- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said Tuesday the United States is seeing gains in its overseas mission to halt the spread of the Islamic State, claiming the terror group has shifted into a “defensive posture.”

“We very much see [Islamic State] largely in a defensive posture inside Iraq, that whatever momentum they had been enjoying has been halted, has been blunted,” he said during a Tuesday press conference. “That has stayed steady over the last couple months.”

Adm. Kirby clarified that it was far from “mission accomplished,” but said America’s military successes are indisputable, CNN reported.

“We know we have destroyed hundreds and hundreds of vehicles, artillery positions, checkpoints,” he said. “We know that we have killed hundreds of their forces. We don’t have the ability to count every nose that we schwack.”

Islamic State terrorists recently have been spreading with alarming speed across the northern and western portions of Iraq, taking control of Mosul and moving into Fallujah.

But they’ve been forced into defensive mode the past few weeks, forced to simply try and hold the ground they’ve already taken, said retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, a CNN military analyst.

“They are having trouble paying their fighters, they are having trouble governing, they don’t have the leaders to actually govern the spaces they have attacked and taken over,” Mr. Hertling said.

Still, one U.S. intelligence official warned that the Islamic State’s “core capabilities remain fundamentally unchanged,” and that the empty slots left by killed fighters have likely “been replaced,” CNN reported.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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