Defense Secretary James Mattis said Sunday the U.S. has switched to “annihilation tactics” against the Islamic State and is focused on completely surrounding the militants instead of moving them from place to place.

“Our strategy right now is to accelerate the campaign against ISIS. It is a threat to all civilized nations. And the bottom line is we are going to move in an accelerated and reinforced manner, throw them on their back foot,” Mattis said in a televised interview on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.”

He said the goal was to take out the militants before they could flee to neighboring countries.

“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,” Mattis said.

Meantime the advance of the troops fighting ISIS in Mosul had slowed down on Sunday after the new offensive from three directions that started on Saturday, two Iraqi military officers said. The militants used snipers, suicide bombers and car bombs to stop the soldiers from retaking Mosul. So far the government has confirmed that two military officers were killed in clashes in the Shafaa neighborhood on the Tigris River. No further details were given on the number of casualties from either sides.

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