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US general warns about ISIS resilience

The fight against ISIS was ‘not quite yet at an inflection point’ because of the militant groups resilience and ability to adapt to losses

Published: Updated:

The US-led fight against ISIS was “not quite yet at an inflection point” because of the militant groups resilience and ability to adapt to losses, Vice Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff General Paul Selva said on Thursday.

“I think the attributes we have to remember about ISIS are they are an incredibly flexible opponent. They are highly decentralized and incredibly resilient,” said Selva. He was speaking a conference hosted by Credit Suisse and McAleese & Associates in Washington.

Selva’s comments come after the Pentagon recently announced a number of successes against ISIS leadership.

On Thursday, the Pentagon said it had captured the extremist group’s chemical weapons chief in February from Iraq.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said this week that ISIS’s military commander had been badly wounded but still alive.

US officials had said that Abu Omar al-Shishani, also known as Omar the Chechen and described by the Pentagon as the group’s “minister of war”, was targeted near the town of al-Shadadi in Syria.

Earlier media reports during the week has initially said that Shishani was 'likely killed' during the strike but the observatory clarified that he had been 'badly wounded.'

Selva said that while ISIS leadership was being hit, it was difficult to predict where the next leaders would emerge from.

“It’s not unreasonable to expect that as you breakdown the leadership of the organization ... juniors will step up,” Selva said.

While declining to give a timeline to retake the northern Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIS, Selva said the conditions existed to isolate and take Mosul.

Earlier this year, Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled al-Obaidi said Iraq would launch the Mosul operation in the first half of 2016 and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said 2016 would see the “final victory” against the militant group.