At Least 250 ISIS Fighters Killed by U.S.-led Airstrikes, Officials Say

The White House says at least 200 ISIS vehicles were destroyed in the strikes. If the casualties are confirmed, the strikes would be among the most deadly ever against the jihadist group.

Smoke rises after a U.S.-led coalition airstrike near Fallujah, Iraq, June 3, 2016.
Khalid Mohammed, AP

REUTERS - U.S.-led coalition aircraft waged a series of deadly strikes against ISIS around the city of Fallujah on Wednesday, U.S. officials told Reuters, with one citing a preliminary estimate of at least 250 suspected fighters killed. 

The White House said that over 200 ISIS vehicles were destroyed in the airstrikes, but did not make an official statement about the amount of fighters killed. If the figure is confirmed, the strikes would be among the most deadly ever against the jihadist group. 

The strikes, which the officials said took place south of the city, where civilians have also been displaced, are just the latest battlefield setback suffered by ISIS in its self-proclaimed "caliphate" of Iraq and Syria. 

The group's territorial losses are not diminishing concerns about its intent and ability to strike abroad though. Turkey pointed the finger at ISIS on Wednesday for a triple suicide bombing and gun attack that killed 41 people at Istanbul's main airport. 

CIA chief John Brennan told a forum in Washington the attack bore the hallmarks of ISIS "depravity" and acknowledged there was a long road ahead battling the group, particularly its ability to incite attacks. 

"We've made, I think, some significant progress, along with our coalition partners, in Syria and Iraq, where most of the ISIS members are resident right now," Brennan said.

"But ISIS' ability to continue to propagate its narrative, as well as to incite and carry out these attacks - I think we still have a ways to go before we're able to say that we have made some significant progress against them." 

On the battlefield, the U.S.-led campaign against ISIS has moved up a gear in recent weeks, with the government declaring victory over ISIS in Fallujah. 

An alliance of militias have also launched a major offensive against the militant group in the city of Manbij in northern Syria. 

Still, in a reminder of the back-and-forth nature of the war, U.S.-backed Syrian rebels were pushed back from the outskirts of an ISIS-held town on the border with Iraq and a nearby air base on Wednesday after the jihadists mounted a counter- attack, two rebel sources said.