Operations have begun to liberate western Anbar and Huwayjah, the last two areas in Iraq where the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria hold territory, said Army Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi made the operations announcement to eradicate ISIS, Dillon said, speaking to Pentagon reporters via teleconference out of Baghdad, today.
“Already, the [Iraqi forces] have routed ISIS in Akashat, Rihanna, and just this morning they have cleared 11 villages, completing their first phase of operations in Huwayjah,” the spokesman said. “These operations are evidence, and showcase the [Iraqis’] increased capacity as a battle-tested, formidable fighting force.”
It is clear that ISIS terrorists are overwhelmed and outmatched by the strength of the [Iraqi forces], he said. “[ISIS] is losing ground, and is failing in every battle. Soon, ISIS will have no sanctuary anywhere in Iraq,” Dillon said.
The coordination among the Iraqi army, the federal police, peshmerga forces, local police, counterterrorism service, and popular and tribal mobilization forces has contributed to the victories seen recently against ISIS, the spokesman said. So far, he added, more than 4 million people have been liberated, and about 15,800 square miles have been cleared.
In Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces continue to eliminate ISIS in the eastern and northeastern regions of that country, Dillon said. In Raqqa, “The SDF have now cleared about 70 percent of the entire city,” he added.
The SDF gained about 84 city blocks in Raqqa from ISIS control in the past week, he said.
“In the past week, the SDF have assisted more than 200 civilians flee the city of Raqqa,” Dillon noted. “The SDF also detained ISIS fighters attempting blend in amongst civilians; one of which was another ISIS emir, or local leader.”