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Hashd Al-Shaabi: Pentagon Report Exaggerating Number of ISIL to Justify Buildup in Iraq

A senior commander of Hashd al-Shaabi said that the US report on the presence of 14,000 ISIL terrorists in Iraq and Syria is unreal and the numbers have been exaggerated too much.

“What the American sources say about the number of ISIL 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 ISIL terrorists from al-Anbar, Salahuddin, Nineveh and Diyala provinces, stressing that ‘Operation Will of Victory’ has shown that only a few dozens of ISIL terrorists have remained in their hideouts in Iraq.

The Iraqi army has also denied a Pentagon report that alleged approximately 14,000 ISIL 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.

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