The CIA says the Islamic State (IS) militant group may have up to 31,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria almost three times as many as previously feared. A CIA spokesman said the new estimate was based on a review of intelligence reports from May to August. IS has seized vast swathes of Iraq and beheaded several civilians and hostages in recent months, leading to US air strikes.
The CIA had previously believed that IS had about 10,000 fighters, spokesman Ryan Trapani said. Headded, “This new total reflects an increase in members because of stronger recruitment since June following battlefield successes and the declaration of a caliphate, greater battlefield activity, and additional intelligence.”