MACDILL AFB, Fla., March 6, 2015 - On the heels of testimony to Congress this week by the U.S. Central Command commander that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is in a "defensive crouch," the coalition supporting anti-ISIL operations today said Iraqi security forces had reclaimed the town of Al Baghdadi from terrorist hands.
Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve said in a news release that it had delivered "precise and effective airstrikes on enemy positions in and around Al Baghdadi, in support of the Iraqi government's fight against ISIL." According to CJTF-OIR, Iraqi security forces and tribal fighters from the Anbar region successfully cleared Al Baghdadi of ISIL, retaking both the town's police station and three Euphrates River bridges, which had been held by the terror group since September. Additionally, CJTF-OIR said Iraqi security forces, with coalition support, succeeded in pushing ISIL from seven villages northwest of Al Baghdadi on the road to Hadithah.
From Feb. 22 - March 6, in support of the Iraqi government's campaign to defeat ISIL, CJTF-OIR has executed 26 airstrikes to facilitate the maneuver of Iraqi security forces and their counter-ISIL attacks. In addition to airstrikes, the coalition supported the operation with surveillance assets and advise and assist teams, which provided operational and intelligence assistance to Iraqi Security Force Headquarters Elements, which helped to enable them to successfully conduct the offensive operation.
CJTF-OIR said it will continue supporting efforts on behalf of the Iraqi government to attack and defeat ISIL. Iraqi security forces now hold the gains they have made and are postured to retake additional territory from ISIL in the Anbar region, according to CJTF-OIR.
During testimony March 3 to the House Armed Services Committee, U.S. Central Command Commander Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III briefed committee members that the military campaign against ISIL is having the desired effects and that the group's advance in Iraq has been halted by Iraqi security forces, Kurdish Peshmerga, and tribal elements, with the support of U.S. and Coalition air operations.
"The fact is that he (ISIL) can no longer do what he did at the outset, which is to seize and to hold new territory," said General Austin. "He has assumed a defense crouch in Iraq."