April 28th, 2016 15:57 EST
Counter-ISIL Effort Makes Gains in Iraq, Syria
The United States military is addressing the transnational nature of the threat that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant poses, but the most dangerous threat remains the core of ISIL in Iraq and Syria, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the Senate Armed Services Committee today.
During a hearing on hearing on counter-ISIL operations and Middle East strategy, Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford said the main U.S. military mission continues to be preventing attacks against the homeland, the American people [and] our allies and partners, regardless of the source. "
ISIL Loses Momentum
The chairman visited Iraq last week to confer with Iraqi and U.S. leaders and assess coalition efforts to strike ISIL and train indigenous forces. While the situation is complex with no shortage of military or political challenges, I was encouraged by what I heard and saw on the ground, " he said.
Last fall, ISIL had the momentum, the general said. I do not believe that is any longer the case, " he said.
U.S. strikes in support of Iraqi forces, the peshmerga and Sunni tribal forces have reduced ISIL-controlled territory, demolished the terror group`s aura of invincibility " and destroyed much of its war-making capability, Dunford said.
The terror group is becoming increasingly isolated and morale inside ISIL is being degraded, the chairman said.
More importantly, the progress of the last several months has instilled confidence in our Iraqi partners, " he added. They believe they can defeat ISIL. "
Aggressive Counter-ISIL Campaign
Iraqi forces continue operations in Anbar province, even as they conduct shaping operations for the eventual liberation of Mosul, Dunford said. In the months ahead, Iraqi forces, the peshmerga and Sunni tribal forces will bring increasing pressure to bear against Mosul, " the general said.
We will be aggressive in looking for opportunities to reinforce success, " he added, and we will seize every opportunity to maintain the momentum and increase the effectiveness of our partners. "
The same pressure is being exerted in Syria, with ISIL finding itself isolated and under attack there from increasingly effective counter-ISIL forces, the general said.
U.S.-supported local Kurdish and Arab forces have retaken a significant portion of the territory previously under ISIL control in northeast Syria, Dunford said. Other vetted forces, he added, are fighting along the Syrian-Turkish border that will put further pressure on ISIL and help stem the flow of foreign fighters and supplies to the terror group.
The recent authorization of additional U.S. forces into Syria will allow us to increase the capacity and capability of indigenous forces and set the conditions for operations against Raqqa, " the general said.
The progress in Iraq and Syria is real, Dunford said, but we`re not satisfied or complacent. We won`t be satisfied until ISIL is defeated in Iraq and Syria and wherever it attempts to take root. "
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