A series of precision U.S. airstrikes against al-Qaida operatives this week in northwestern Syria’s Idlib province killed more than 20 militants and destroyed eight vehicles and nine structures, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook told reporters today.
A U.S. strike on Jan. 1 hit two al-Qaida vehicles that had departed a large al-Qaida headquarters near Sarmada, Syria, Cook said.
And, a Jan. 3 U.S. strike hit the headquarters compound itself, he added.
“Al-Qaida's foreign terrorist fighter network used this headquarters as a gathering place, and their leaders directed terrorist operations out of this location,” Cook said.
He added, “As you know, al-Qaida remains committed to carrying out terrorist attacks against the United States, our interests, and our allies and friends. We will continue to take actions to deny any safe haven for al-Qaida in Syria. We will not allow al-Qaida to grow its capacity to attack the United States or our allies around the world, and these strikes demonstrate that commitment.”
Cook said the campaign against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists is also progressing in both Iraq and Syria.
Iraqi Forces Make Gains in Mosul
In the campaign to liberate the Iraqi city of Mosul, Iraqi security forces have made progress in liberating neighborhoods and in clearing areas already liberated, he said.
“They have further linked the various axes of advance into Mosul, which as we’ve mentioned previously makes the ISF’s job easier and ISIL’s job more difficult,” Cook said. “Of course, the global coalition continues to support Iraqi forces with air strikes -- eight in the last 24 hours in support of the Mosul operations -- as well as assistance from the ground.”
In Syria, the press secretary said, Syrian democratic forces continue to liberate territory on the way to Raqqah.
“SDF forces have now advanced to within 7.5 kilometers of Tabqa Dam, and continue to make progress in clearing areas north and west of Raqqah,” Cook said. “In support of these operations, the coalition in the last 24 hours conducted 10 airstrikes, including strikes against both tactical units and the oil infrastructure that provides ISIL’s shrinking financial support.”
(Follow Karen Parrish on Twitter: @dodnewskparrish)