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Islamic State formations comprise up to 70,000 gunmen — Chief of Russia's General Staff

December 10, 2014, 16:43 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Islamic State is turning into a key element of radical Islam in the Middle East

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Islamic State militants seen in Syria's Kobani (archive)

Islamic State militants seen in Syria's Kobani (archive)

© AP Photo/Raqqa Media Office, File

MOSCOW, December 10. /TASS/. The Islamic State organization is currently turning into a key element of radical Islam in the Middle East and has a tendency towards further growth, Chief of the Russian General Staff General Valery Gerasimov said on Wednesday at a meeting with military attaches of a number of countries.

According to him, the critical problem now is countering the organization’s activity. “According to our estimates, the Islamic State formations operating in Syria and Iraq now comprise up to 70,000 gunmen of various nationalities,” said the chief of the Russian General Staff.

“It is noteworthy that it is the United States that had previously provided financial and technical assistance to this group in the fight against the Syrian government,” he said.

“Washington at present is creating an international coalition for Operation Inherent Resolve, as well as launching airstrikes on the Islamic State groupings in Iraq and Syria. The White House in the meantime has made statements that only a ground operation is capable of inflicting a considerable blow on the terrorist group forces,” Gerasimov said.

Islamic State is a radical Islamist group which has seized territory across northern and western Iraq and eastern Syria. Its brutal tactics - including mass killings and abductions of members of religious and ethnic minorities, as well as the beheadings of soldiers and journalists - have sparked fear and outrage across the world and prompted US military intervention.

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