Relatively soon, ISIS (also called Daesh) will have no sanctuary anywhere in Iraq, according to Colonel Ryan Dillon, spokesperson for Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve, US Central Command, Baghdad, Iraq.
“We will retake every last bit of Iraqi territory from the enemy,” Col. Dillon told reporters at a teleconference participated by Gulf Times yesterday.
The topic was the ‘War on ISIS in Iraq and Syria.’
He said some 4mn people in more than 41,000sq km of ground have been liberated from ISIS across Iraq and about 2.3mn people in more than 44,000sq km across Syria are no longer under ISIS control.
During the past week, Col. Dillon noted the coalition supported the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) with 29 strikes on Daesh targets in Hawija and another 34 against Daesh fighters in western Anbar.
The global coalition is composed of 73 members: 69 countries and four international organisations, considered as one of the largest coalitions in history.
Col. Dillon said that stabilisation efforts continue in Mosul as federal police, local police and tribal forces conduct security operations in the east and western parts of the city.
“The coalition continues its support to Iraqi forces during these current and upcoming operations, which include retraining, providing equipment, intelligence, and precision fires in combat,” he stressed.
In preparations for the upcoming battles against ISIS, Colonel Dillon observed that Iraqi forces have worked tirelessly with the humanitarian community, prioritising the evacuation of civilians that are trapped by ISIS.
Internally displaced people are also being transported to camps.
He attributed “the great progress in Iraq” in the fight against Daesh to the combined efforts of all the Iraqi forces working together, which include the Iraqi army, Federal police, Peshmerga forces, local police, Iraqi counterterrorism service, and the popular tribal mobilisation forces.
According to Col. Dillon, the United Nations working with the Iraqi government has more than 300 projects underway in Mosul worth more than $200mn.
“However, although military successes have come quickly recently, there is a lot of hard work to be done and more hard fighting in the days ahead,” he pointed out. “We must continue to work together to defeat Daesh and to do what is necessary.”
In Syria, Col. Dillon said Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continue to fight and eliminate ISIS terrorists throughout eastern and northeastern Syria.
“We are currently on our fourth month of operations to defeat ISIS in Raqqa, and during the past week, the SDF continued to make steady progress,” he said. “The western access of the city, the SDF maintained defensive positions in the fortified ISIS headquarters, which is located in a compound commonly referred to as the National Hospital.”
This past week, Col. Dillon added that the SDF assisted more than 170 civilians flee the city of Raqqa while the coalition supported them in delivering more than 90,000 leaflets near Raqqa’s frontlines to notify remaining civilians how to evacuate safely.
In Southern Syria in the tri border region, he said coalition forces continue to conduct patrols and prepare for counter ISIS operations with their partner forces.
“We still expect tough fighting ahead but with our partners’ battlefield successes, their increase capacity and continued support from the coalition, we will keep the pressure on ISIS until they are defeated in both Iraq and Syria,” Col. Dillon stressed.
“In Iraq, the coalition trained more than 116,000 ISF and that goes from 43,000 Iraqi army; 19,000 police; 6,500 border guard forces; 22,500 Pashmerga; 14,000 counterterrorism service members; and 10,000 tribal mobilisation forces,” he said.
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