01:33 GMT19 June 2021
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    Former Pentagon official Steven Bucci said that although the operation has made some progress, airstrikes alone will not defeat the Islamic State.

    Syrian refugees jump off a dinghy as they arrive on the Greek island of Lesbos September 3, 2015
    © REUTERS / Dimitris Michalakis
    WASHINGTON (Sputnik), Michael Hughes — The Islamic State can claim victory in the eyes of its supporters because it has weathered a 12-month bombing campaign that President Barack Obama claimed would degrade and destroy the terrorist group, former Pentagon official Steven Bucci told Sputnik on Friday.

    In August 2014, the United States launched Operation Inherent Resolve, comprising of a 62-nation US-led coalition that has carried out more than 6,500 airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria at a cost of nearly $4 billion.

    "In the eyes of their supporters and possible recruits, ISIL [Islamic State] is ‘winning’, simply because they have not lost," Bucci explained.

    US officials have estimated that the military campaign against the Islamic State has eliminated 10,000 of the terrorist group’s fighters, while others have claimed group has recruited about the same number to maintain strength levels.

    Bucci warned that although the operation has made some progress, airstrikes alone will not defeat the Islamic State.

    "Thus far, the Coalition Operation has failed to accomplish the purpose for which it was started, and has not even had sufficient progress to be called a work in progress," Bucci added.

    The Islamic State meanwhile, Bucci claimed, continues to abuse the citizens within the territory it controls and even justifies the rape of nine-year olds.

    On Friday, reports surfaced that Washington believes the Islamic State has started producing and using chemical weapons in Syria and Iraq, the BBC reported, citing an unnamed US official.

    The US bombing strategy is being complemented by an effort to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels. Earlier this week, the Pentagon said it was concerned about the program because it could not ascertain the disposition of the US-trained fighters and whether they have joined the Islamic State.

    Bucci is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, a retired US Special Forces commander and served as a military assistant to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He currently serves as Director of National Security Policy at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC.


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