MOSCOW, September 12 (RIA Novosti) - The Islamic State (IS) has up to 31,500 militants on the ground in Iraq and Syria, the US Central Intelligence Agency estimated.
"CIA assesses the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant can muster between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters across Iraq and Syria, based on a new review of all-source intelligence reports from May to August," CIA spokesman Ryan Trapani said, Agence France-Presse reported Thursday.
According to Trapani, there are several reasons for the considerable increase in the military power of IS.
"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," he explained.
The CIA statement came a day after US President Barack Obama announced plans to defeat the IS by extending US airstrikes from Iraq to Syria.
The Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), is a Sunni jihadist group that has been fighting against the Syrian government since 2012. In June 2014, the group extended its attacks to northern and western Iraq, declaring a caliphate on the territories under its control later that month.