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CIA: New Intel Estimates Islamic State Has Up to 31,500 Fighters Across Iraq, Syria

That's dramatically from from a previous figure of 10,000.

This undated file image posted on a militant website on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 shows fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) marching in Raqqa, Syria. Once a vibrant, mixed city considered a bastion of support for President Bashar Assad, the eastern city of Raqqa is now a shell of its former life, transformed by al-Qaida militants into the nucleus of the terror group's version of an Islamic caliphate they hope one day to establish in Syria and Iraq. In rare interviews with The Associated Press, residents and activists in Raqqa describe a city where fear prevails, music has been banned, Christians have to pay religious tax in return for protection and face-veiled women and pistol-wielding men in jihadi uniforms patrol the streets. (AP Photo/militant website, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A CIA spokesman says a new intelligence assessment estimates that the Islamic State group can muster between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters across Iraq and Syria, up from a previous figure of 10,000.

The new assessment is based on a review of intelligence reports from May to August. It is larger than the 20,000 figure being used by many outside experts.

CIA spokesman Ryan Trapani says the new total reflects stronger recruitment by the extremist group since June following battlefield successes and the group's declaration of a caliphate. He says the revised number also reflects "greater battlefield activity, and additional intelligence."

One last thing…
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