The physical caliphate of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is in pieces and operations against ISIS [Islamic State group, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh] continue in the Euphrates River valley, but the ISIS “brand” remains to be defeated, Pentagon officials said on Thursday.
Remnants of the terror group continue to operate in Iraq, but improved Iraqi security forces are able to manage that threat, chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White and Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. told reporters during the weekly Pentagon briefing. McKenzie is the director of the Joint Staff.
And, McKenzie denied Russian claims that the United States was responsible for drone attacks on Russian airfields in Syria. “I can tell you unequivocally that the United States was not involved in any way with the drone attack on the Russian base at any time,” he said.
ISIS ‘Broken, Fractured’
“[The physical caliphate] has been broken and fractured, but the work still continues,” White said. “We are going to continue our operations because we ultimately have to ensure we have conditions on the ground that ISIS can never re-emerge.”
McKenzie said trends against the remnants of the physical caliphate in the Middle Euphrates River valley are good. “We seem to be having success there with our allies and partners, but … I wouldn’t put a timeline on that,” he said. “There is also an enduring global element to it -- the enfranchisement of ISIS. Even though they failed as a caliphate, there are global manifestations of their brand that we see pop-up. I think there is plenty for the global coalition to do in the year ahead, aside from the physical end of the caliphate in the Euphrates River valley.