NEW YORK, October 16 (RIA Novosti) – Islamic State (IS) fighters are adapting to US-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria and will not be defeated without a more substantial ground force, Karwan Zebari, a director at the Kurdistan Regional Government office in Washington, told RIA Novosti Thursday.
"The US-led coalition continues to be surprised by the strength, mobility and command and control structure of ISIS [IS]. ISIS has proven that it is adapting to these air strikes. Air strikes were effective at some point, but lately ISIS has blended in with the population," Zebari said.
"They are not moving around in large convoys as they used to. They are not moving around their heavy artillery in large quantities, as they used to. When fighters are moving around in taxis or civilian cars, it is difficult to target them," he added. "Coalition members need to realize that you have to have some boots on the ground."
The IS, a brutal Sunni group of some 30,000 fighters that controls a vast Sunni-majority zone straddling the Iraq-Syria border, continues to make gains in northern Syria and Iraq's desert western province of Anbar.
The group, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has fought the Syrian government since 2012. It extended attacks to north and west Iraq in June and declared the creation of an Islamic caliphate.
In August, the United States started conducting airstrikes on IS positions in Iraq, extending the airstrikes to Syria in September, when an international anti-IS coalition was formed, currently comprising more than 60 countries.