ISIL Now in ‘Defensive Crouch’ in Iraq, Syria

Since May, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has steadily lost ground to Iraqi security forces and Syrian Democratic Forces, the spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve said on Wednesday.

Briefing the Pentagon press corps via video conference from Baghdad, Army Col. Steve Warren offered battlefield updates and a status report on coalition efforts.

In Iraq, ISIL has lost 20,000 to 22,000 square kilometers, or 40 percent of its taken territory, he said, and in Syria it has lost more than 310 square kilometers, or about 10 percent of its territory.

Coalition members so far have trained and equipped 17,541 Iraqi security forces, Warren said, and the coalition continues to increase the pace and intensity of airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.

Airstrikes and Ground Ops

“When our airstrikes are coupled with local ground operations, we see ISIL having to react and move around the battlefield. This just makes it easier for us to strike them,” he said.

An estimated 2,500 enemy fighters were killed in coalition airstrikes across Iraq and Syria in December, Warren added.

“We believe that ISIL is now in a defensive crouch. … May is when they reached their culminating point of offensive operations. Since then, all they’ve really managed to do is lose ground,” he said.

In an update on Operation Tidal Wave II, which targets ISIL’s illicit oil infrastructure in Iraq and Syria, Warren said that coalition aircraft struck six gas and oil separation points and two ISIL crude oil collection points on Jan. 2 near Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria.

Pressuring the Enemy

“Since we began Operation Tidal Wave II the coalition has conducted 65 strikes against oil targets. We assess that this operation has reduced [ISIL] revenue by about 30 percent,” the colonel said, noting that ISIL’s production dropped from 45,000 barrels of oil a day to 34,000 barrels a day.

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