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OIR official extends condolences to Baghdad attack victims

By Terri Moon Cronk, DoD News

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May 11, 2016 — WASHINGTON (May 11, 2016) — Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant fighters resort to desperate acts as the terrorist organization loses ground in Iraq, the commander of Operation Inherent Resolve’s Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command said, as he extended condolences to the people affected by today’s bombing in Baghdad.

Army Maj. Gen. Gary J. Volesky told Pentagon reporters in a teleconferenced briefing from Baghdad that Iraq security forces “have the situation under control.” DoD officials said about 90 people were killed in the blast.

The Iraqis have not asked for assistance, he said, adding the attacks have not changed the Operation Inherent Resolve’s posture.

Making Progress Against ISIL

Volesky, who also commands the 101st Airborne Division, said conditions on the ground have changed in the last 60 days -- from clearing Ramadi and protecting the forward line of troops in the northern portion of Iraq.

“The Iraqi security forces have made great progress in the Euphrates River Valley, putting constant pressure on ISIL,” he said. “They've started operations at … Makhmur, just to the east of Qayyarah. That's the farthest north that Iraqi security forces have been since the fall of Mosul.”

As the Iraqi forces have made gains, Volesky said, officials have seen changes in ISIL operations, as the terrorist group faces increasing Iraqi pressure.

“The enemy was originally able to use the Tigris River Valley and the Euphrates River Valley … as one operation [to] move men, weapons and equipment,” the general said. But increased Iraqi pressure shows ISIL must conduct two separate operations in the river valleys, he added.

Iraqi Forces Increase Pressure

“As we saw previously, their ability to conduct large-scale offensive operations has primarily stopped. They're more … every day on the defensive, trying to delay Iraqi security forces just to buy time,” he said.

Officials recently looked at ISIL’s targeting methodology to continue applying pressure across all of Iraq, the general said. He credited the U.S.-led coalition with assisting Iraqi forces as it counters ISIL fighters.

“This coalition is unlike any other one that I have ever served in,” he said. “I have been associated with coalitions, … [and nations] that are parts of this coalition are making a huge contribution.”

Speaking from a 101st perspective, Volesky also noted, “Our saying is, ‘When you want it done, call in the 101.’ And we can't do what we do without our military families and the great communities that support our Army every single day.”