WASHINGTON, Sept. 28, 2017 — Coalition and partner forces are making significant progress in defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve said today in Baghdad.
“ISIS is losing on all fronts, and they are losing their grip on their few remaining strongholds in both Iraq and Syria,” Army Col. Ryan Dillon said in a videoconference with reporters at the Pentagon.
The coalition and its partners on the ground — the Iraqi security forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces — remain committed to defeating the enemy, he said.
“But make no mistake,” he added, “we fully expect fierce fighting in the days ahead. And while these terrorists remain a dangerous and desperate enemy, our ISF and SDF partners have proven they are up to the task.”
The terrorists have committed inhumane actions and violated the laws of war, Dillon said, are responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians. He called on the world to hold ISIS accountable for the violations.
Focus on Decisive Defeat in Iraq
Iraqi forces have made significant progress in the fight, Dillon said. “Our Iraqi partners have fought a long, bloody war and have sacrificed a great deal to liberate their people and clear terrorists from cities and villages,” he told reporters.
More than 42,000 square kilometers in Iraq have been cleared and more than 4 million people are now free from ISIS control, the colonel said. “ISIS is on the run, and we must remain focused on delivering a decisive defeat in their few remaining holdouts in Iraq,” he added.
In the past week, Iraqi security forces have continued fighting ISIS on multiple fronts, showing their capacity as a strong, unified fighting force, Dillon said, noting that they have made steady progress in defeating the enemy in the two and a half weeks since launching simultaneous operations in Hiwija, Sharqat and in the western part of Anbar province. The Iraqi forces completed the first phase of operations in Hiwija and Sharqat, clearing more than 1,300 square kilometers and liberating more than 100 villages, he said.
In western Anbar, the town of Ana is clear of ISIS fighters and improvised explosive devices, and operations are under way to clear the nearby town of Rayhanna.
ISIS Losing Grip on Raqqa
The Syrian Democratic Forces have made steady gains in liberating Raqqa, Dillon said.
“We are seeing the terrorist group begin to lose its grip on their self-declared capital in Raqqa,” he said, adding that more than 75 percent of the city is now clear of ISIS with more than 50 city blocks cleared in the past week.
“ISIS is trying to control the remaining civilians in the city, holding them hostage as the terrorists cling to the final square kilometers they hold,” he said.
The Syrian Democratic Forces provided safe passage for about 300 civilians seeking refuge from Raqqa this week, he said. “The singular mission of our combined joint task force is the annihilation of ISIS,” he stressed. “In total, across Syria, about 2 million people are no longer under ISIS control, and more than 44,000 square kilometers have been cleared.”