The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist group has between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters in Iraq and Syria, much higher than the previous estimate, the U.S. spy agency Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) said Thursday.
According to Xinhua, the latest estimate was based on “a new review of all-source intelligence reports from May to August,” CIA spokesman Ryan Trapani said in a statement.
The new figure is much higher than the previous estimate of about 10,000 ISIL fighters.
The CIA statement was issued one day after U.S. President Barack Obama announced in a speech Wednesday night a comprehensive plan to expand airstrikes against ISIL forces and rely on an international coalition to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group.
The ISIL has drawn alarm after overrunning vast swaths of territory in Iraq in a bid to set up their so-called own nation-state.