Col. Steve Warren Updates Iraq, Syria Operations

The coalition fighting Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq has conducted 7,712 airstrikes since operations began, the majority in Iraq, an Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman said today.

Army Col. Steve Warren, speaking via teleconference from Baghdad, told reporters at the Pentagon that 5,032 of those airstrikes were in Iraq, while 2,680 were in Syria.

In other developments, Warren recounted how 70 hostages were freed from an ISIL prison in Hawija, Iraq, during an Oct. 22 raid.

Army Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler was killed by enemy small-arms fire during the operation. “We’re all thinking about the family of Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler. He is a hero,” Warren said.

‘Tough Fight’ in Ramadi

Iraqi security forces are conducting “consolidation and reorganization operations” to retake Ramadi, Warren said. Iraqi forces face improvised explosive device attacks, but have “held the line,” he added.

Coalition forces have conducted 26 airstrikes in Ramadi since last week, breaking several enemy counterattacks and providing maneuver space as the Iraqi forces continues to clear obstacles and IED clusters, he said.

Warren described the battle to retake Ramadi as a “tough fight,” adding that he is confident Ramadi will be liberated. “But I’m not going to predict a timeline,” he said.

Meanwhile, Warren said, in Beiji, the elite Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service, federal police and the Popular Mobilization Forces are working to clear the city and the Beiji oil refinery.

New Counter-IED Tools for Iraqis

The United States has adjusted its training and equipping program, in light of the extensive IED clearance and obstacle reductions the Iraqi forces face, Warren said.

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