The coalition supporting the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is helping to shape the Iraqi security forces’ upcoming battle for Mosul, Iraq, by targeting and removing ISIL leaders from the battlefield, the Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman said today.
Air Force Col. John L. Dorrian briefed Pentagon reporters by video conference from Baghdad, noting that in the past 30 days alone, coalition airstrikes have targeted 18 ISIL leaders who supported terrorist efforts in Iraq and Syria.
Dorrian said 13 of the leaders were part of military, intelligence and communication networks in Mosul.
The spokesman said the counter-ISIL coalition continues to target and remove the terrorist group’s leaders from the battlefield. Also, ISIL’s intelligence, military operations, communications, finance and external operations networks are being disrupted and degraded, he said.
Degrading, Disrupting ISIL
The strikes have targeted ISIL’s military commanders, administration and media officials, foreign-fighter facilitators, emirs, security commanders, communication leaders and senior Shura council leadership, Dorrian said.
“The people who replace these [leaders] have not established their bona fides with [ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi], his inner circle, and they’re often not as seasoned as those they replace,” he added.
“This is especially true around Mosul,” Dorrian said, “as the coalition continues to be relentless in degrading and disrupting command and control of their fighters, softening their grip on the city and prepping the battlefield for the liberation.”
In a two-day period in Mosul, the coalition removed Abdul Hamid al-Shishani, Abu Jabir al-Shishani and Abdul al-Rahman al-Shishani -- all ISIL Chechen foreign fighters responsible for administration and command of fighters in Mosul, Dorrian said, degrading ISIL’s foreign-fighter footprint and capabilities in the city.
Coalition forces also eliminated Wa’il Adil Hasan Salman al-Fayyad, also known as Dr. Wail, ISIL’s minister of information and senior Shura member who was one of the top five most senior ISIL leaders and a direct associate of Baghdadi, the spokesman said. Wail was in charge of ISIL’s media network, responsible for providing messaging guidance for propaganda and directions for terrorist attacks abroad. Dorrian explained.
“[Removing] the ISIL media head at this time when ISIL is under increased pressure will further disrupt their ability to maintain any illusion that things are going well for them,” Dorrian said. “This is important because it affects foreign recruiting and foreign financing.”
Another strike in Mosul killed Abu Ahmad Imarah, the ISIL Mutah Division leader. The division is the ISIL unit responsible for security in eastern Mosul. His removal disrupts ISIL military formations and affects the terrorist army’s readiness for the Mosul liberation fight, Dorrian added.
The coalition also has removed Abu Jannat, ISIL’s deputy military emir in Mosul, with another strike, the spokesman said. This action has further degraded ISIL’s military operations around Mosul, he said, while applying more pressure to ISIL’s leadership network.
Jannat, an Iraqi native, was responsible for military operations around Mosul, including the manufacture of chemical weapons and the defense of Mosul, Dorrian said.
Targeting ISIL’s Enforcers
The coalition also is dismantling ISIL’s terrorist law enforcement apparatus in Mosul, the spokesman said, noting that a coalition strike killed Abu Bakr, an emir of the East Mosul military police.
Abu Bakr is an Iraqi and considered by ISIL to be an effective member of their leadership and law enforcement apparatus, Dorrian said. The removal of Abu Bakr from the terrorist’s network, he added, will continue to compound pressure on ISIL's military leadership in Mosul and reduce their ability to control the population.
Coalition attacks directly against ISIL leadership compound the impact of the relentless coalition air campaign, which is now well above 15,000 strikes, he added. The air campaign is dismantling ISIL’s command and control network by destroying safe houses, weapons manufacturing and storage facilities, supply routes, oil revenue and money, Dorrian said.
The 600 additional troops that President Barack Obama authorized this week to be deployed to Iraq will help the Iraqi security forces liberate Mosul, the spokesman said.
“Those forces will come into the country in the coming weeks to provide additional logistics and maintenance capability as we continue to provide advice and assistance to the Iraqi security forces,” Dorrian said. “Part of the force upgrade will also provide increased intelligence support.”
He added, “Just as the ISF is taking on the largest liberation fight to date in Iraq's second-largest city, we will be enhancing our support to them because of the size of the task and the number of troops involved.”