(CNN) – ISIS is preparing for a long fight, but will sending more American troops help defeat the terror group?
In a new video ISIS shows off its latest strategy to survive: fighters in an underground tunnel system in Iraq, sheltered from coalition airstrikes.
An ISIS leader has come out of hiding. Less than a week after reports he was targeted in an airstrike, the group released audio only of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi suggesting he survived. In the new message, purportedly the voice of the leader, al-Baghdadi called the coalition “terrified, weak and powerless” and threatened “volcanoes of jihad everywhere”. CNN cannot confirm the authenticity of the audio.
With over 800 airstrikes so far, the nation’s top defense officials Thursday said again there will be no U.S. boots on the ground in the fight against ISIS.
“U.S. military personnel will not be engaged in a ground combat mission.”
But the Joint Chiefs Chairman seemed to leave the door open for greater U.S. involvement in Iraq.
“I’m not predicting, at this point, that I would recommend that those forces in Mosul and along the border would need to be accompanied by U.S. forces, but we’re certainly considering it.”
As the United States prepares to send 1500 additional military personnel to Iraq, the Joint Chiefs Chairman says Iraq will need 80,000 of its own troops to recapture territory it has lost to ISIS. But the idea got a skeptical reception.
“I’m asking what’s the difference in the men of… the Iraqi men that we have in the forces there in making a difference, not running away from the battle.”
Dempsey admitted even with more training Iraqi forces still need to show they are up to the fight.
“One of the assumptions is that the Iraqi security forces will be willing to take back Al Anbar Provinces and Nineveh Province. If those assumptions are rendered invalid, I will have to adjust my recommendations.”