March 9, 2016 —
KEY WEST, Fla., (March 9, 2016) — Coalition operations continue to isolate the Syrian city of
Raqqa, the so-called capital of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here yesterday.
Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford
Jr. said Syrian Democratic Front forces and Iraqi security forces are working
to prevent ISIL from using Raqqa as a planning hub or an area from which the
terror group can launch attacks.
The latest operations are aimed at
breaking the connection between Raqqa and Mosul, Iraq, -- the largest city that
“Those operations are ongoing,”
Dunford said. “If you look at what the [Kurdish] peshmerga did in Sinjar and
look at the operation in Shaddadi, the effect of those operations is to cut the
lines of communication between Raqqa and Mosul.”
This continues the plan announced
last year to increase pressure on the terror group across Iraq and Syria, the
Raqqa and Mosul are the two centers
of gravity for ISIL, Dunford said.
“We are increasing the number of
folks that we are supporting on the ground -- in this case the Syrian-Arab
Coalition,” he said. “Right now we don’t have a timeline for the operation for
when we will take Raqqa. It’s going to be conditions-based -- based on the size
of the force we have, based on enemy dispositions, and of course, there is some
other work being done both east and west of Shaddadi to consolidate the
operation so far.”
“This is all part of tightening the
noose on ISIL in Syria,” the chairman said.
Dunford was in Key West to visit Joint
Interagency Task Force - South officials at Key West Naval Air Station.
Previously, he attended March 8 meetings in Miami with U.S. Southern Command