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Pentagon Hails Progress, Momentum in Mosul Fight

By Lisa Ferdinando DoD News, Defense Media Activity

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WASHINGTON, Nov. 1, 2016 — Iraqi security forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters are making progress as they push toward Mosul in the effort to liberate the city from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the Pentagon's press secretary said today.

"There's no question that counter-ISIL forces continue to have the momentum in this fight," spokesman Peter Cook said at today's Pentagon press briefing

Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who was in Iraq last week, was encouraged by the performance of the counter-ISIL forces in the opening days of the battle, and continues to be encouraged, Cook said.

Iraqi soldiers attending Iraqi Noncommissioned Officer Academy clear a corner during urban-combat training at Camp Taji, Iraq, Oct. 22, 2016. This training is critical to enabling the Iraqi security forces to counter ISIL as they work to regain territory from the terrorist group. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Craig Jensen)
Iraqi soldiers attending Iraqi Noncommissioned Officer Academy clear a corner during urban-combat training at Camp Taji, Iraq, Oct. 22, 2016. This training is critical to enabling the Iraqi security forces to counter ISIL as they work to regain territory from the terrorist group. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Craig Jensen)
Iraqi soldiers attending Iraqi Noncommissioned Officer Academy clear a corner during urban-combat training at Camp Taji, Iraq, Oct. 22, 2016. This training is critical to enabling the Iraqi security forces to counter ISIL as they work to regain territory from the terrorist group. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Craig Jensen) Iraqi NCO Academy Training
Iraqi soldiers attending Iraqi Noncommissioned Officer Academy clear a corner during urban-combat training at Camp Taji, Iraq, Oct. 22, 2016. This training is critical to enabling the Iraqi security forces to counter ISIL as they work to regain territory from the terrorist group. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Craig Jensen)

"The campaign is on track and moving forward according to plan," Cook said.

Progress in the last 24 hours includes the successful clearing of the villages of Ali Rash on the southeast outskirts of Mosul, and the clearing of Kharab Bayt and Kani Shirin north of Mosul, Cook pointed out.

The offensive to liberate Mosul began Oct. 17.

Progress Due to 'Bravery and Dedication'

Cook said Iraqi forces have reported that in some places they are less than a kilometer from the city. Tough fighting ahead is expected, he said.

ISIL has used vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, indirect fire and snipers in an attempt to delay the advance of the Iraqi forces, he said. The terrorists have also set an obscuration fire to try to conceal their positions and movements.

"None of this has stopped the Iraqi advance, and of course, the support for the Iraqi advance from the coalition," Cook remarked.

There are reports ISIL is forcing civilians to act as human shields, he said.

The coalition will continue to conduct the campaign with an "eye toward protecting the innocent lives ISIL is putting at risk in the course of this fight," Cook said.

"The progress we have made to date is a testament to the bravery and dedication of the Iraqi soldiers, the Peshmerga fighters, the federal police and the others on the front lines," he said.

Effort Backed by International Coalition

Cook highlighted the support from the international coalition in Operation Inherent Resolve.

Over the last day, coalition forces have delivered 118 munitions through the air and artillery strikes, bringing the total employed since Oct. 17 to nearly 2,900, he said.

French soldiers conduct a fire mission at Qayyarah West, Iraq, in support of the Iraqi security forces’ advance toward Mosul, Oct. 17, 2016. The support provided by the Caesar truck- mounted artillery system teams denies the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) safe havens while providing the ISF with vital artillery capabilities during their advance. The United States stands with a Coalition of more than 60 international partners to assist and support the Iraqi security forces to degrade and defeat ISIL.  (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Christopher Brecht)
French soldiers conduct a fire mission at Qayyarah West, Iraq, in support of the Iraqi security forces’ advance toward Mosul, Oct. 17, 2016. The support provided by the Caesar truck- mounted artillery system teams denies the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) safe havens while providing the ISF with vital artillery capabilities during their advance. The United States stands with a Coalition of more than 60 international partners to assist and support the Iraqi security forces to degrade and defeat ISIL. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Christopher Brecht)
French soldiers conduct a fire mission at Qayyarah West, Iraq, in support of the Iraqi security forces’ advance toward Mosul, Oct. 17, 2016. The support provided by the Caesar truck- mounted artillery system teams denies the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) safe havens while providing the ISF with vital artillery capabilities during their advance. The United States stands with a Coalition of more than 60 international partners to assist and support the Iraqi security forces to degrade and defeat ISIL.  (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Christopher Brecht) French Forces Provide Fire Support
French soldiers conduct a fire mission at Qayyarah West, Iraq, in support of the Iraqi security forces’ advance toward Mosul, Oct. 17, 2016. The support provided by the Caesar truck- mounted artillery system teams denies the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) safe havens while providing the ISF with vital artillery capabilities during their advance. The United States stands with a Coalition of more than 60 international partners to assist and support the Iraqi security forces to degrade and defeat ISIL. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Christopher Brecht)

In addition, the coalition recently delivered 228 additional vehicles to Iraqi forces and has continued to provide food and ammunition resupply across the battlefield, according to Cook.

'Feeling Heat' in Iraq, Syria

The coalition believes in the importance of maintaining pressure on ISIL, and is focused on defeating the terrorists in both Iraq and Syria, Cook said.

"While they're feeling the heat in Mosul, they're also feeling the heat in Syria," he said.

The coalition is continuing to support local partners in Syria, and is continuing air operations both in Syria and Iraq, Cook said. Those efforts to defeat ISIL, he said, are to include beginning the isolation of Raqqa in "the not too distant future."  

 

(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)