WASHINGTON, July 24, 2017 —
Iraqi forces now control all parts of Mosul, Iraq, while tough fighting against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria continues in Raqqa, Syria, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters here today.
Since the height of ISIS's power in 2014, the coalition has retaken more than 70 percent of formerly ISIS-controlled territory in Iraq and 50 percent in Syria, he said, and the coalition fighting ISIS continues to grow.
“There are now 73 partners in that coalition, which is 69 countries plus the European Union, NATO, the Arab League and Interpol,” the International Police Organization, he said, noting that coalition partners in Iraq and Syria have retaken more than 44,400 square miles of territory, and freed 5 million people from ISIS control.
In an update of operations beginning with Iraq, Davis said that Iraqi forces continue to conduct detailed clearance operations of rebel caves and tunnel systems in Mosul's old city, looking for any remaining ISIS fighters and seeking to identify explosive devices that could threaten friendly forces or civilians.
The old city is the focus of cleanup operations, he said, and the Iraqi army, the Emergency Response Division forces, the Counter Terrorism Service and federal police are holding sectors in Mosul until the holding force takes over security.
“There's been only one coalition strike in Mosul in the last week and a single-digit number of direct-fire engagements in Mosul in the last week. These are indicators of the improved security and stability situation there,” Davis said.
Before the single strike over the past week, the last time the coalition made no strikes on Mosul was Sept. 15, he added.
The coalition has conducted multiple strikes in Tal Afar this week against supply caches, vehicle-borne bomb factories and command-and-control locations, Davis said.
“[Iraq's] forces will decide when it’s best to begin the offensive operations to defeat ISIS in Tal Afar, and when [they are] ready, the coalition will be there to support,” he said.
Davis said that today is the 50th day of operations to defeat ISIS in Raqqa and about 40 percent of the city is now under control of the Syrian Democratic Forces, and yesterday the SDF liberated about 2 square miles of terrain in and around Raqqa as they fought off stiff resistance along three axes.
On the city’s western axis, he added, the SDF gained ground along a corridor south of the main supply route despite heavy ISIS resistance with small arms, machine-gun fire and homemade bombs.
“On the eastern axis, the SDF made incremental gains and repelled ISIS counterattacks, and incorporated indirect fires and vehicle-borne [improvised explosive devices], Davis said. “On the southern axis south of the Euphrates River the SDF cleared about 1.5 square miles, despite ISIS counterattacks from area villages.”
He also said the east-west deconfliction line south of the Euphrates is holding, referring to the boundary established through the Russian channel to deconflict the advance of regime forces.
“Regime forces further to the south are moving ... in the direction of Dar Azar,” Davis said, “and this deconfliction mechanism has worked effectively to ensure that there are no skirmishes between SDF fighters and regime fighters as the regime moves further downriver.”
(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter @PellerinDoDNews)