WASHINGTON, July 13, 2017 —
The retaking of Mosul by Iraqi forces delivered a significant blow to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Army Col. Ryan Dillon, the spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, told Pentagon reporters today.
Joined in the Pentagon press briefing room by Iraqi Brig. Gen Yahya Rasool, spokesman for the Joint Operations Command; Brig. Gen. Halgurd Hikmat Ali, the spokesman for the Kurdistan Regional Government's Ministry of the Peshmerga; and Brig. Gen Saad Maad, spokesman for the Baghdad Operations Command and Iraq's Interior Ministry, Dillon said it was Iraqi determination that put ISIS on an increasingly rapid decline while the terrorists also lost control of Tikrit, Ramadi and Fallujah.
“Iraqi security forces, on the other hand, have only improved and gotten stronger,” the colonel said. “They have proven with their battlefield successes that they know … they are a better fighting force and they are better than the terrorists that they fight.”
Unity of Effort
Defeating ISIS throughout Iraq has been a unified effort under Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's direction, he said.
“And just look at how the Iraqi security forces have fought. All elements of the Iraqi security forces achieved this victory together: [the] Iraqi army, the federal police, Peshmerga forces, local police, counterterrorism service, and popular and tribal mobilization forces,” Dillon said.
Iraqi forces have cleared more than 30,000 square miles of territory once held by ISIS, and nearly 2 million Iraqis who were displaced have returned to their homes, the colonel noted, but, he cautioned, the enemy still must be wiped out around the world.
“[The] defeat of ISIS in Mosul does not mark the end of this evil ideology and global threat,” Dillon said. "With the coalition's help, the ISF will keep the pressure on this enemy while they are on their heels and not give them a chance to rest.”
Coalition to Continue Fight
With military forces and stabilization efforts, the coalition will continue to support Iraq to defeat ISIS, he said, adding, “The progress that has been made to date is because of brave Iraqi partners who take the fight to ISIS every single day, and the strong coalition that supports and fights with them.”
It is the professionalism, dedication and competence of such men and women who have gone toe-to-toe with the enemy that paved the way for ISIS's lasting defeat, Dillon said.
Human Lives First
Rasool said it is human life that comes first, and territory is secondary in the fight to rid the country of ISIS.
“Therefore, we consider this a human victory before a victory of a location, of a land,” the general said through a translator. “We liberated millions of people. We liberated them from terrorism, starvation and the worst terrorist organization in the world known to humankind. And we did a great job by this victory.”
The Iraqi military, counterterrorism services and the federal police forces are Iraq’s heroes, he said, adding, “the Peshmerga -- these are other heroes, and also the Popular Mobilization forces. From the beginning, they were part of all of our military operations to liberate the city of Mosul.”
The victory over ISIS is a victory of a coalition that liberated large areas that were difficult because of the nature of the enemy, Rasool said. “We are not forgetting here the role of our friends in the international coalition. They supported us in so many different ways.”
(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDOD)