Pentagon Official Details Counter-ISIL Progress in Iraq, Syria
The coalition and its partners in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant continue to make gains in Iraq and Syria, a Pentagon spokesman said today.
Iraqi forces have cleared eastern Mosul and are focused on removing remaining fighters as other terrorists flee west to Badush, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters.
In an "indication of their desperation" to get to the ISIL-controlled area, terrorists are trying to drive their vehicles through a shallow area of the Tigris river, he said.
"Some vehicles are making it, some are not," Davis said, pointing out that ISIL had previously destroyed the bridges linking the two areas.
'Tremendous Pressure' on ISIL in Syria
The coalition carried out more than 50 airstrikes over the last week in Syria, supporting Syrian Democratic Forces in clearing nearly 30 square kilometers northwest of Raqqa, the captain said.
"The counter-ISIL coalition continues to lay tremendous pressure on extremist organizations in northern Syria," he said.
The SDF's multi-ethnic forces are methodically clearing the areas of remaining pockets of ISIL terrorists and fortifying their own defenses, Davis said.
"The SDF remains within four kilometers of the Tabqa Dam and less than 30 kilometers from Raqqa," he added.
Since the operation to isolate the key city of Raqqa began Nov. 5, the SDF has cleared more than 3,000 square kilometers and the coalition has conducted nearly 900 precision airstrikes, he said.
"These strikes have destroyed more than 100 [ISIL] vehicles, more than 300 fortifications, degrading ISIS's ability to maneuver and defend themselves and the occupied city from the advancing Syrian Democratic Forces," the captain said.
'Deliberate, Dynamic Strikes' in Northwestern Syria
The coalition continues to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to support its Turkish partners in the fight against ISIL around al-Bab in northwestern Syria, he said.
"Additionally, the coalition continues to conduct deliberate and dynamic strikes against ISIS targets of the vicinity of al-Bab," Davis said.
Coalition aircraft have conducted about 20 strikes in the vicinity of al-Bab so far this month, destroying ISIL vehicles, fighting positons, indirect-fire systems, command-and-control nodes and vehicle bombs, the captain said.
"We'll continue to work with Turkey and our partner forces to maximize our efforts in degrading and defeating [ISIL]," Davis said, adding, "We continue to develop plans for greater coordination and support in the operations in and around al-Bab."
(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)