“What the American sources say about the number of ISIS members and the danger of their infiltration from Syria to Iraq is an attempt to intimidate the Iraqi nation and government,” Mo’ein al-Kazzemi told the Arabic-language Baghdad al-Youm news website on Tuesday.
“The Americans want to find a pretext for their continued military presence and increase their forces,” he added.
Al-Kazzemi said that the Iraqi security forces are now chasing and cleansing ISIS terrorists from al-Anbar, Salahuddin, Nineveh and Diyala provinces, stressing that ‘Operation Will of Victory’ has shown that only a few dozens of ISIS terrorists have remained in their hideouts in Iraq.
The Iraqi army has also denied a Pentagon report that alleged approximately 14,000 ISIS fighters were present along the Iraqi-Syrian border.
“The figure announced by the Pentagon is extremely exaggerated,” the spokesman for the Joint Operations Command, Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, said in a press statement.
Rasool added that the Iraqi military had recently launched their third phase of Operation Will of Victory, which is meant to rid Iraq of the last Islamic State sleeper cells. The third phase began last week and is currently being conducted inside the Diyala Governorate.
Since Russia entered the war in September 2015, ISIS lost most of the territories it occupied since 2011. The terrorist state was virtually destroyed last year by a coalition composed of Russia, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. ISIS is now just one of many foreign-funded terrorist organizations and since its defeat, its geopolitical significance has all but vanished.