The United States, Turkey and coalition partners also are working together to support stabilization and local civilian governance in the Syrian town of Manbij, Townsend noted. “The coalition is committed to the security of Turkey and will continue to work in close coordination with partner forces and allies to deliver a lasting defeat to ISIS, which remains the greatest terrorist threat to the region and the world,” he added.
Freeing Raqqa Expected To Cripple ISIS
The coalition continues planning for the eventual liberation of Raqqa, ISIL's self-proclaimed capital, Townsend told reporters. “We are confident that the [Syrian Democratic Forces] that are isolating Raqqa will continue their recent successful clearance operations and set the stage for the liberation of the city. This would be a major setback for the enemy,” Townsend said.
Friendly forces have cleared more than 6,000 square kilometers of territory -- or nearly 2,317 square miles -- in the countryside of Raqqa since the operation began Nov. 5, he added.
“We've continued discussing how Turkey and their partner forces might contribute to the liberation of the city,” Townsend acknowledged. “The liberation of Raqqa will bring an end to the enemy's mythology that they were ever more than a brutal, murderous terrorist group. And then, we will continue working with our partners to deal them a lasting defeat,” he said.
Coalition efforts by, with and through partners in Iraq and Syria have made significant progress, the general said.
“I continue to be encouraged by the bravery and commitment of our partner forces that have fought hard and made many sacrifices in their efforts to liberate their land,” Townsend said. “Their efforts protect the people of Iraq, Syria, the region and the world from a threat that needs to be eliminated for the good of all.”
(Source: US Dept of Defense)