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Pentagon Spokesman Updates Iraq, Syria, Yemen Operations

By Cheryl Pellerin

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WASHINGTON, April 24, 2017 — Coalition and U.S. strikes continue to aid progress against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in Iraq and Syria, and against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said here today.

Iraqi special operations forces members prepare to participate in training in Baghdad conducted by Coalition members assigned to Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Iraq, April 17, 2017. This training is part of the overall Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve building partner capacity mission by training and improving the capability of partnered forces fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Brandon Raile
Iraqi special operations forces members prepare to participate in training in Baghdad conducted by Coalition members assigned to Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Iraq, April 17, 2017. This training is part of the overall Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve building partner capacity mission by training and improving the capability of partnered forces fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Brandon Raile
Iraqi special operations forces members prepare to participate in training in Baghdad conducted by Coalition members assigned to Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Iraq, April 17, 2017. This training is part of the overall Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve building partner capacity mission by training and improving the capability of partnered forces fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Brandon Raile Inherent Resolve
Iraqi special operations forces members prepare to participate in training in Baghdad conducted by Coalition members assigned to Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Iraq, April 17, 2017. This training is part of the overall Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve building partner capacity mission by training and improving the capability of partnered forces fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Brandon Raile

Today is day 65 of the operation to liberate western Mosul in Iraq, he said, and yesterday Iraqi forces gained another 6 square kilometers along the forward line of troops on the axis of attack moving from the south toward Mosul’s old city.

Members of the Iraqi Emergency Response Division and the Federal Police maintained defensive positions along their eastern boundary and the Tigress River. The Counterterrorism Service also gained new ground and the Iraqi army’s 9th Division continued to defend positions west of Mosul. Clearing operations continue in eastern Mosul, Davis reported.

Supporting Iraq Operations

“The total number of munitions delivered since Oct. 17 in support of operations to liberate Mosul is 22,107,” he added.

The munitions destroyed total 259 vehicle-borne bombs, 638 buildings and facilities, 209 tunnels, 684 vehicles, 914 bunkers, 38 anti-aircraft artillery systems, 542 artillery and mortar systems, and 279 boats and barges, Davis said.

On April 23, coalition military forces conducted seven strikes consisting of 49 engagements against ISIS targets.

Near Rawah, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed an ISIS staging area, according to a statement by Operation Inherent Resolve officials.

Near Mosul, the officials said, six strikes engaged five ISIS tactical units; destroyed 11 fighting positions, eight heavy machine guns, four rocket-propelled grenade systems, two ISIS-held buildings, an ISIS-held bridge and a vehicle-borne bomb; damaged 14 ISIS supply routes and a fighting position; and suppressed four rocket teams, three mortar teams and an ISIS tactical unit.

Operations in Syria

In the fight for Raqqa in Syria, the Pentagon spokesman said, Syrian Democratic Forces have liberated another 2 square kilometers in the Raqqa valley north and Tabqah areas, and in the Raqqa valley north on the western axis.

“The SDF is reporting large numbers of internally displaced persons fleeing ISIS-held areas around there,” Davis added, noting that ISIS does not control the Tabqah dam or the city but the city is almost entirely surrounded.

In Syria yesterday, according to an OIR statement, coalition military forces conducted 24 strikes consisting of 48 engagements against ISIS targets.

Near Dayr Az Zawr, three strikes destroyed three ISIS wellheads. Near Palmyra, two strikes destroyed four fighting positions and two ISIS shipping containers.

Near Raqqa, seven strikes engaged three ISIS tactical units and destroyed three fighting positions, a heavy machine gun, a tactical vehicle and an ISIS wellhead. And near Tabqah, 12 strikes engaged 10 ISIS tactical units and destroyed 12 fighting positions, a tactical vehicle, an ISIS vehicle, a heavy machine gun and a command-and-control node.

Yemen Operations

U.S. forces conducted a strike April 18 in the Ma’rib governorate against three al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula terrorists, and another strike yesterday in the Shabwa governorate against eight al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula terrorists, Davis said.

“Since February 28, we've conducted more than 80 precision strikes against AQAP militants, infrastructure, fighting positions and equipment, and we'll continue to conduct operations including strikes against known terrorists,” he added.

Davis said U.S. forces are conducting a series of sustained operations in Yemen against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula to degrade the group's ability to coordinate external terror attack operations and limit their ability to hold territory seized from the legitimate government of Yemen and use it as a safe haven for terror plotting.

Centcom is still assessing the results of the most recent strikes, he said.

(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter @PellerinDoDNews)