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Senior US Intelligence Official Says IS Global ‘Footprint’ Growing

© REUTERS / U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Matthew Bruch/HandoutUS Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles are designed to conduct airstrikes in Syria and Iraq
US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles are designed to conduct airstrikes in Syria and Iraq - Sputnik International
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Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart said the Iraqi Security Forces would be unable to wrestle down military threats without external assistance.

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MOSCOW, (Sputnik) — Islamic State (IS) militant group is growing internationally beyond Syria and Iraq while the US-led coalition’s airstrikes continue to help local forces dislodge the extremists, a senior US intelligence officer said Tuesday.

"With affiliates in Algeria, Egypt, Libya, the group is beginning to assemble a growing international footprint that includes ungoverned and under governed areas," Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, was quoted as saying by CNN.

Stewart added that the number of foreign fighters coming in and out of Syria and Iraq was “troubling.”

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As the United States trains Iraqi forces to fight the extremists, Stewart noted that Iraqi Security Forces would be unable to “defend against external threats or sustain conventional military operations against internal challenges without foreign assistance."

Last week, the Waliyat Sinai militant group in Egypt pledged allegiance to IS and claimed responsibility for a series of attacks that killed over 25 people. In Libya, a hotel attack in late January was perpetrated by militants also claiming to be an affiliate of the IS.

The IS radical group has also gained ground in parts of northern and southern Afghanistan, according to local media.

Thick smoke rises following an airstrike by the US-led coalition in Kobani, Syria as fighting intensified between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State group, as seen from Mursitpinar in the outskirts of Suruc, at the Turkey-Syria border, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014. - Sputnik International
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Meanwhile, the group continues to recruit fighters from all over the world, including nationals of European countries. According to UN estimates, some 15,000 foreign nationals have fought alongside jihadists in Iraq and Syria since 2011.

The IS began fighting the Syrian government in 2012 later expanding operation to Iraq and currently controls large swathes of land in both countries.

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