The general leading the new U.S. military task force carrying out operations in Iraq and Syria said Thursday that in future he’ll be calling the Islamic State “Daesh” — a first in the Pentagon but one that brings him in line with much of the Arab world. Army Lt. Gen. James L. Terry used the word 25 times in a 30-minute news conference with reporters. He said partner nations in the Middle East have asked him not to use the Islamic State name or its related acronyms, ISIS and ISIL, out of concern that it legitimizes the militants’ aspiration to establish a caliphate, a sovereign Islamic sphere that would replace existing governments and borders.
In Arabic, Daesh is a loose acronym for one of the group’s names, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (al-Dawla al-Islamiya al-Iraq al-Sham). The name is hated by the militants. The Associated Press reported in September that several people in the Iraqi city of Mosul said fighters with the group had threatened to cut out their tongues if they used the Daesh name.
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