Iraqi security forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters are making progress as they push toward Mosul in the effort to liberate the city from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the Pentagon's press secretary said today.
"There's no question that counter-ISIL forces continue to have the momentum in this fight," spokesman Peter Cook said at today's Pentagon press briefing
Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who was in Iraq last week, was encouraged by the performance of the counter-ISIL forces in the opening days of the battle, and continues to be encouraged, Cook said.
"The campaign is on track and moving forward according to plan," Cook said.
Progress in the last 24 hours includes the successful clearing of the villages of Ali Rash on the southeast outskirts of Mosul, and the clearing of Kharab Bayt and Kani Shirin north of Mosul, Cook pointed out.
The offensive to liberate Mosul began Oct. 17.
Progress Due to 'Bravery and Dedication'
Cook said Iraqi forces have reported that in some places they are less than a kilometer from the city. Tough fighting ahead is expected, he said.
ISIL has used vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, indirect fire and snipers in an attempt to delay the advance of the Iraqi forces, he said. The terrorists have also set an obscuration fire to try to conceal their positions and movements.
"None of this has stopped the Iraqi advance, and of course, the support for the Iraqi advance from the coalition," Cook remarked.
There are reports ISIL is forcing civilians to act as human shields, he said.
The coalition will continue to conduct the campaign with an "eye toward protecting the innocent lives ISIL is putting at risk in the course of this fight," Cook said.
"The progress we have made to date is a testament to the bravery and dedication of the Iraqi soldiers, the Peshmerga fighters, the federal police and the others on the front lines," he said.
Effort Backed by International Coalition
Cook highlighted the support from the international coalition in Operation Inherent Resolve.
Over the last day, coalition forces have delivered 118 munitions through the air and artillery strikes, bringing the total employed since Oct. 17 to nearly 2,900, he said.
In addition, the coalition recently delivered 228 additional vehicles to Iraqi forces and has continued to provide food and ammunition resupply across the battlefield, according to Cook.
'Feeling Heat' in Iraq, Syria
The coalition believes in the importance of maintaining pressure on ISIL, and is focused on defeating the terrorists in both Iraq and Syria, Cook said.
"While they're feeling the heat in Mosul, they're also feeling the heat in Syria," he said.
The coalition is continuing to support local partners in Syria, and is continuing air operations both in Syria and Iraq, Cook said. Those efforts to defeat ISIL, he said, are to include beginning the isolation of Raqqa in "the not too distant future."
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