More than 1,000 foreign jihadists are streaming into Syria and Iraq each month despite the ongoing international aerial military campaign there, the United States has warned.
U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials have said the U.S.-led military campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has neither deterred nor led to a surge of foreign militants travelling to Syria.
“The flow of fighters making their way to Syria remains constant, so the overall number continues to rise,” The Washington Post quoted a U.S. intelligence official as saying.
The rate of 1,000 militants a month was established over the past year, which would put the total number of foreign militants in Syria at more than 16,000.
The pace of this migration exceeds similar trends in comparable past conflicts, such as the Afghanistan war of the 1980s, according to the Washington Post report.
A U.N. report has warned that the jihadist migration to Syria and Iraq has reached “unprecedented scale,” with an estimated 15,000 foreign fighters currently there.
“Numbers since 2010 are now many times the size of the cumulative numbers of foreign terrorist fighters between 1990 and 2010 – and are growing,”
Counter terrorism experts have said the number of foreign fighters in Syria is likely to continue swelling.
“I don’t think 15,000 really scratches the surface yet,” Andrew Liepman, a counterterrorism expert, was quoted by the Washington Post as saying.
Australian boy Abu Khaled, believed to be Abdullah Elmir, speaks flanked by other ISIS jihadists in a recent ISIS propaganda video.