Increasingly desperate Islamic State fighters in Iraq are in full retreat and showing other signs of giving up in the face of a relentless campaign by Iraqi forces, backed by coalition airpower, the top U.S. military land commander in Iraq said Thursday.
"The Iraqis are winning. To use a sports analogy they are 7 and 0," said Maj. Gen. Robert White, the Combined Joint Forces Land Component commander.
White said that while Iraqi forces still have a few major population centers to clear of ISIS control, the terrorist group has for all intents and purposes been vanquished in Iraq.
"They know they are losing. They can see it coming, and they are starting to run away, and they are starting to ask for surrender, which is something you would not have seen a year ago," White said in a briefing from Iraq piped into the Pentagon.
"Daesh [ISIS] is fighting for survival. The physical caliphate has been destroyed. It will be finished off in another part of the world here shortly," White said.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has predicted publicly that Iraq will be free of ISIS by the end of the year.
The Pentagon says that, as of last week, Iraqi forces had liberated more than four million Iraqis and reclaimed more than 16,000 square miles of territory once held by ISIS. That is more than 95 percent of what ISIS controlled at its peak of power.
Fighting continues in Syria, where U.S.-backed Syrian fighters have succeeded in clearing ISIS from 80 percent of Raqqa, its once self-declared capital.
White said ISIS' certain defeat in Iraq shows their days are numbered in Syria as well.
"I think that is indicative of where they are as an organization," White said. "They are losing, they know they are losing, and there's no way out."