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While speaking with reporters en route to the Middle East, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said the purpose of the trip was to look at the security situations in Egypt, Jordan, and Pakistan and meet with the countries' respective leaders.
Before arriving in Egypt, Mattis said that ISIS is crumbling a lot faster than most people had expected, using Syria as an example.
“As you've observed in Syria, the enemy is collapsing,” he explained. “In many cases, faster than many people in the media forecasted. You know, I always stayed away from timelines for this very reason. It's usually slower or faster than any timeline.”
Mattis has been reluctant to provide a timeline for victories in the past.
“At this point, you also noted that a Marine, or U.S. Marine artillery unit is coming out," he continued. "Again, working by, with and through our allies, you know that it was the [Syrian Democratic Forces] that did the fighting. That fighting is now dropping off, in terms of the need for offensive capability.”
The Marine artillery unit Mattis referred to is returning to the United States after a victory declared in Raqqa, Syria. According to Maj. Gen. John Love, commanding general of Second Marine Division, the First Battalion, 10th Marines has killed more members of ISIS than any other unit.
“We think that battery has killed more ISIS than anybody else out there right now, including special operations forces,” he said, according to Military.com.