US turning to ‘annihilation tactics’ in fight against ISIS

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Defense Secretary James Mattis has a message for evil-doers who want to harm the US: They don’t scare him.

Discussing global terror threats and North Korea’s nuclear ambitions Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” anchor John Dickerson asked Mattis what keeps him up at night.

‘Nothing,” the retired Marine Corps general said. “I keep other people awake at night.”

James MattisGetty Images

Mattis, who President Trump has referred to as “Mad Dog,” also said the US is stepping up its fight against Islamic State terrorists and turning to “annihilation tactics.”

“The bottom line is we are going to move in an accelerated and reinforced manner, throw them on their back foot,” Mattis said. “We have already shifted from attrition tactics where we shove them from one position to another in Iraq and Syria, to annihilation tactics where we surround them.”

He said the goal is to destroy the jihadist group before the militants can escape to other countries and carry out terror attacks.

“Our intention is that the foreign fighters do not survive the fight to return home to North Africa, to Europe, to America, to Asia, to Africa. We’re not going to allow them to do so. We’re going to stop them there and take apart the caliphate,” he said.

He said the US-backed Iraqi forces continue to tighten the noose on the terrorists.

“Attrition is where you keep pushing them out of the areas that they’re in. And what we intend to do by surrounding them is to not allow them to fall back, thus, reinforcing themselves as they get smaller and smaller, making the fight tougher and tougher,” Mattis added.

Iraqi forces have surrounded the terror group in Mosul and military officials said in the next few days they expect to capture the al-Nuri mosque where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the forming of the caliphate in 2014, which extends into Syria.

ISIS has taken credit for an attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, on May 22 that killed 22 people and for the killing of 29 Christians on Friday in Egypt.