In an interview with 60 Minutes’ Charlie Rose, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that American airstrikes were not having much of an effect on the strength of the Islamic State.
“Sometimes you could have local benefit,” said Assad, “but in general if you want to talk in terms of ISIS, actually ISIS has expanded since the beginning of the strikes. Not like some American wants to sugar coat the situation to say that it’s getting better. ISIS is being defeated and so on. Actually, no, you have more recruits. Some estimates that they have 1,000 recruits every month in Syria. And Iraq, they are expanding in Libya and many other al Qaeda affiliate organizations have announced their allegiance to ISIS. So that’s the situation.”
It would be easy to dismiss out of hand anything that comes from the mouth of a lying, murderous dictator like Assad, but what he says about ISIS matches what we’ve heard from Middle Eastern experts from across the spectrum. Only the Obama administration continues to propagate this claim that their actions against ISIS have been effective. In March, Secretary of State John Kerry once again defended the administration’s course.
“ISIL’s momentum has been diminished,” Kerry said in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “It is clear that even while savage attacks continue, there’s the beginning of a process to cut off their supply level, to take out their leaders, to cut off their finances, to reduce the foreign fighters, and to counter the messaging that has brought some of those fighters to this effort.”
One can establish at a glance the game Kerry is playing, though, even without the slightest familiarity with the situation in Iraq and Syria. With words like “diminished” and “the beginning of a process,” Kerry is basically saying that very little has been accomplished so far. Reports from NBC have said that ISIS is replenishing their forces at a faster rate than airstrikes are killing them. And now Assad has confirmed that, as far as he has seen, there has been little impact.
Still, the U.S. claims that everything is going just swimmingly. A top military commander characterized ISIS has having gone into “a defensive crouch” in Iraq, even as reports of Tikrit being liberated from the terrorist group appear to have been premature.
Meanwhile, back in the States, the Army has issued a “security awareness message” to its soldiers, encouraging them to protect themselves, their homes, and their social media accounts from attacks by ISIS. Included in the message are several safety steps like using the peephole before opening the door and toning down internet postings so terrorists don’t have access to their comings and goings.