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Pentagon Spokesman: Iraqi Troops Force Defensive Choices for ISIL

By Terri Moon Cronk

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WASHINGTON, Nov. 10, 2016 — Iraqi security forces continue to apply pressure on multiple fronts in the operation to retake the country’s second-largest city of Mosul from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook told reporters today.

In this file photo taken Aug. 15, 2016, U.S Army Soldiers, Battery C, 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, Task Force Strike, begin their crew drill to load another round for a fire mission in northern Iraq. The 526th Brigade Support Battalion’s Support Operations Cell and the 336th Combat Support Sustainment battalion’s movement control team in Erbil have sustained operations like this one which are critical to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Daniel I Johnson)
Soldiers with Battery C, 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, Task Force Strike, begin their crew drill to load another round for a fire mission in northern Iraq, Aug. 15, 2016. The 526th Brigade Support Battalion’s Support Operations Cell and the 336th Combat Support Sustainment battalion’s movement control team in Erbil have sustained operations like this one, which are critical to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Army photo by 1st Lt. Daniel I. Johnson
In this file photo taken Aug. 15, 2016, U.S Army Soldiers, Battery C, 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, Task Force Strike, begin their crew drill to load another round for a fire mission in northern Iraq. The 526th Brigade Support Battalion’s Support Operations Cell and the 336th Combat Support Sustainment battalion’s movement control team in Erbil have sustained operations like this one which are critical to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Daniel I Johnson) Critical Support
Soldiers with Battery C, 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, Task Force Strike, begin their crew drill to load another round for a fire mission in northern Iraq, Aug. 15, 2016. The 526th Brigade Support Battalion’s Support Operations Cell and the 336th Combat Support Sustainment battalion’s movement control team in Erbil have sustained operations like this one, which are critical to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Army photo by 1st Lt. Daniel I. Johnson

“The advances so far are forcing ISIL to choose where they want to try and defend the city,” the press secretary said in an operational update on the counter-ISIL effort in Iraq and Syria.

Cook noted that to their credit, the Iraqi fighters are continuing to take steps to minimize civilian casualties, as is the U.S.-led coalition air campaign.

Advances From East, North, South

Iraqi counterterrorism forces continue to deliberately isolate and clear areas of Mosul’s eastern districts, securing key neighborhoods, the press secretary said. To the north, he said “Bashiqa has been retaken, although some back clearing still continues, and there's more progress in clearing the towns of Bahweza and Sayyid, bringing the [Iraqi security forces] within 2 kilometers, approximately, of Mosul.”

South of the city, he added, Iraqi forces consolidated control of Rashid and Sahyma and completed the clearance of Abbas Rejab.

In Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces also continue their drive toward Raqqa, and they continue to make progress against moderate ISIL resistance, Cook said.

ISIL in Syria Under Pressure

“ISIL forces in Syria are also under pressure from Turkish-supported Syrian opposition forces, which liberated a number of towns and villages southeast of Dabiq,” he said. “The momentum in Iraq and Syria, has of course, been assisted by coalition support, including air power.”

Yesterday, coalition forces conducted more than a dozen strikes employing 74 munitions in support of operations toward Raqqa, and seven strikes using air power and artillery. The coalition also employed 67 munitions supporting the Iraqi security forces and Kurdish peshmerga operations near Mosul, Cook added.

“The bottom line is across Iraq and Syria, ISIL remains under increasing pressure, and its problems are multiplying as we apply that pressure on the battlefield,” the press secretary said.

 (Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)