'Steady Progress' As Some Iraqi Forces Reach Mosul, OIR Official Says
Iraqi security forces and Kurdish peshmerga fighters are gaining ground in the battle for Mosul, with some forces reaching the northern Iraqi city, the spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve said today.
"Some Iraqi forces have reached Mosul, and others continue advancing toward the city, making steady progress as [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] is forced to fall back," Air Force Col. John Dorrian told Pentagon reporters in a news briefing via teleconference from Baghdad.
"The ISF are conducting their advance deliberately as [ISIL] continues their tactics to intimidate civilians and complicate the Iraqi advance," he said.
The U.S.-led coalition continues a "relentless campaign of precision air artillery and rocket strikes," Dorrian said, highlighting the more than 3,000 strikes conducted since the battle for Mosul began Oct. 17.
"The advance of the Iraqi security forces on Mosul further complicates the enemy's ability to command and control its fighters," he said, adding that ISIL continues to lose ground against advancing Iraqi and Kurdish forces. The coalition, he pointed out, continues to supply equipment, vehicles, ammunition and food to support the Iraqi security forces and Kurdish peshmerga fighters to "help provide a decisive advantage to our partners as the tougher phases of the battle ensue."
Isolation, Liberation of Raqqa
The coalition remains focused on putting pressure on ISIL in both Iraq and Syria, Dorrian said. It continues to attack ISIL leadership and has struck the terrorists' ability to make money from illicit sales of petroleum products, he added. "All these operations are intended to disrupt and dismantle the enemy's ability to function as a coherent organization or respond to coalition and partner operations," he said.
ISIL does not have the ability to move large troop formations or convoys in and out of the Syrian city of Raqqa. The coalition has conducted strikes on ISIL supply and infiltration routes to limit freedom of movement in and out of Raqqa, Dorrian said.
In Syria, Operation Noble Lance, with Turkish and partnered forces, has liberated about 50 villages to further isolate areas in northern Syria around Raqqa, the colonel said. That operation and previous missions have created a buffer along Syria's northern border, he said, reducing the access to infiltration routes to and from Europe.
Dorrian explained the buffer limits ISIL's ability to resupply, bring in fighters and equipment and to conduct operations in Europe. Raqqa is not fully isolated and encircled, Dorrian said, "but that's what's coming in the near future."
(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)