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Transcript: Col. Myles Caggins, CJTF-OIR Spokesperson, holds final press conference with Syrian Democratic Forces

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Opening remarks

Press Conference at Hasakah

Myles Caggins: Good afternoon Hasakah. Six years ago this week, the Global Coalition to defeat Daesh was formed. Since September 10, 2014, we have liberated 7.7 million people and 110,000 square kilometers of land from ISIS tyrannical rule.

The US Air Force did its first airstrike in Syria on September 22, 2014. Back then, the situation looked bleak. To much of the world, ISIS looked unstoppable. And they were, until the Syrian Democratic Forces rallied to beat ISIS at Kobani in January 2015. These brave warriors. The women and men of the Syrian Democratic Forces, supported by Coalition air power and special operations forces, proved to the world that ISIS could be beaten.

This is a history you all know too well. But the world should never forget that the true champion against ISIS are the Syrian Democratic Forces. The confederation of SDF troops united from Raqqa to Rumalyn, Amudae to Al Busirah to achieve one goal: crush ISIS.

And crush ISIS they did.

ISIS harmed your family, your friends, and some of you have visible and invisible wounds from the horrors of ISIS and the vile Assad regime and its war on innocent civilians. For many children in this region, they have only known war.

So many orphans. So many martyrs. So many tears shed.

But the world must also know that the people of northeastern Syria are resilient. And it is unfair and unhelpful to only focus on the doom and gloom of the past six years. There is hope. Even in the face of a disastrous economy and the coronavirus pandemic, communities and families are striving for normalcy.

On behalf of the commander of the military Coalition to defeat ISIS, I want to you to know we are committed to the people of this region.

Allow me to briefly update you on some recent activities:

The Coalition is involved in training programs from anti-terror troops, those troops have decimated ISIS leaders in the past few months.

And we're supporting the SDF as they keep pressure on ISIS.

We are also working with the Syrian Democratic Forces and Iraqi Security Forces to strengthen border security.

Switching to humanitarian assistance...

To help prepare people for careers, the US is supporting Technical and Vocational Education and Training through "Project Injaz." Graduates from Raqqa and Deir ez Zor are employed in professions such as carpentry, electronics repair, and dairy production. In July, 1,005 students graduated - including 32% women.

The U.S. is providing more than $31 million in humanitarian assistance for the response to COVID-19 in Syria and supports risk communication, disease surveillance, water, sanitation and hygiene programs, infection prevention and control.

Coalition forces have provided hygiene and medical supplies to detention facilities across northeast Syria. In addition to the supplies, SDF guards are receiving further training in sanitation, infection prevention measures, and the use of protective equipment.

Groups like the United Nations Mine Action Service have educated more than 3 million Syrian people on the hazards of Explosive Remnants of War.

Since 2012, Coalition nations including the US, Germany, UK, Kuwait, and Canada have contributed $43.3 billion for humanitarian assistance.

We've accomplished a lot. But there's more to do.

With that, I'll take your questions.

CLOSING COMMENTS:

Myles Caggins: Thanks everyone for your insightful questions. I know many of you drove miles across bumpy and dangerous roads to attend.

As journalists you are writing the first draft of history. The stories you tell are powerful.

Because of you, the world has focused attention on the people of northeastern Syria who have stood up and fought ISIS successfully.

I am the son of a U.S. Soldier. I was born in Germany and grew up in the United States, South Korea, and Panama for a short while. Never did I dream that one day I would be spokesman for an 77-nation international Coalition that includes Germany, the United States, South Korea, and Panama.

Representing the Coalition has been the most rewarding experience of my career. You have welcomed me as your "guest." I am forever thankful.

This is my final press conference as Coalition military spokesman. My replacement, Colonel Wayne is on a plane to Erbil today. And I will encourage him to visit NE Syria soon. Major Gabby will also return to Texas. Her husband and son miss her. They plan to go on a vacation to hunt in the Rocky Mountains. I am extremely proud of Major Gabby and the other members of my team in Iraq and Kuwait. And her replacement, Major Brian is here today.

I want to give my deepest appreciation to Mustafa Bali and Kino Gabriel for helping me navigate the complexities of this region. From sharing tweets...we have forged a strong partnership focused on the anti-ISIS mission.

See the original transcript here: https://sdf-press.com/?p=32593