Momentum is on the side of the Iraqi security forces that are imposing their will on Islamic State of Iraq and Syria fighters despite tactics the enemy continues to employ to keep Mosul in their grip, the spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve told Pentagon reporters today.
Speaking by teleconference from Baghdad, Air Force Col. John Dorrian said the Iraqis are holding firm, despite the enemy firing indiscriminately into civilian areas, using civilians as human shields, and continuing to destroy many of the structures they occupy “in the type of scorched-earth attacks that we've seen in other areas that they've held.”
Ineffective ISIS Tactics
Such tactics are not working for ISIS, said the colonel, who predicted more hard fighting in the days ahead.
Yet, “it's just a matter of time until all of Mosul is free and stability operations can gather momentum throughout the city,” Dorrian said.
With the counterattack to liberate west Mosul from ISIS control in its 25th day, Dorrian noted, the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service, emergency response division and federal police are operating in the dense urban terrain in the city, while to the west, the 9th Iraqi Army Division continues clearing in the vicinity of Badush and along the main route out of Mosul toward Tal Afar.
“East of the Tigris on the northern part of the city, the 16th Iraqi Army Division retains their control of a major water treatment plant and cleared along the Tigris River,” the colonel said.
And, in spite of spotty weather, the coalition continues airstrikes, he said.
Raqqa Isolation Progresses
In Syria, Syrian Democratic Forces and their Syrian-Arab Coalition continue operations to isolate Raqqa along two axes east of the city, the spokesman said.
“Our partners have rolled back ISIS territorial gains to the east, north and west of the city, capturing more than 7,400 square kilometers of territory,” he noted.
To support U.S. partners' operations, Dorrian said, the coalition airstrikes have destroyed more than 130 enemy armored and soft-skin vehicles, 57 car bombs and more than 450 enemy fighting positions, enabling the momentum of the campaign to continue.
The coalition also brings in temporary capabilities, such as the recent deployment of Marines for all-weather fire support.
The colonel added that a small coalition force also continues its actions that started around Manbij, when the city was liberated Aug. 13, 2016.
“Since that time, coalition forces have continued to train, advise, assist and accompany Manbij Military Council forces as they provide security to the people of Manbij and restore local governance and public works to the city,” Dorrian said.
Coalition forces being present in the area improves transparency and facilitates communication among all parties in the area to avoid misunderstanding and miscalculation, he noted.
“[The] coalition is in part a reassuring presence for partner forces that they can rely on to ensure the focus is against ISIS as we turn toward Raqqa,” Dorrian said.
(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)