That operation also increases pressure on ISIL, which has shown significant signs that its supply shortages and the dismantling of its command and control across Iraq are leaving them incapable of stopping the Iraqi forces from advancing, he said.
“Continuing to pressure the enemy along the Euphrates River Valley is very important to the overall security of Iraq,” Dorrian said, “and we'll continue a relentless campaign of strikes to keep the enemy on the back foot as the [Iraqi forces continue clearing operations].”
Syria Fight Progresses, Manbij Residents Return
Progress against ISIL forces in Syria also is evident along the Mara line in the north, as NATO ally Turkey and coalition forces continue advise-and-assist missions with local forces, Dorrian said. “Since the start of Operation Noble Lance, these partnered forces have liberated 254 square kilometers of ground, to include the people in 37 villages in that area,” he added.
And since Manbij was liberated in mid-August, displaced residents are returning to the city in very large numbers, Dorrian said. About 70,000 people now reside in Manbij while efforts continue to remove ISIL booby traps and homemade bombs, the colonel told reporters, although 125,000 lived in Manbij before the enemy invaded. More than 3,000 families have benefited from humanitarian aid, he added.
Plans Outline Defeating ISIL Drones
The Inherent Resolve spokesman said reports show ISIL has used commercial, “off-the shelf” drones for surveillance, and in some cases, to deliver explosives. While not a new ISIL tactic, Dorrian said, the coalition is working the drone issue with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization and the Army, among others.
“To supplement the capabilities already in theater, a system called Drone Defender and additional advanced systems have been sent that are capable of detecting, identifying, tracking and defeating [unmanned aircraft systems] threats,” he said.
(Source: US Dept of Defense)