July 7th, 2016 08:30 EST
Local Forces Continue Push to Mosul in Iraq, Manbij Isolation in Syria
U.S.- and coalition-backed local forces continue the fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant fighters in the push toward Mosul in Iraq and the isolation of Manbij in Syria, Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Army Col. Christopher Garver said today.
Speaking live via videoconference from Baghdad, Garver offered condolences on behalf of the coalition to the families and loved ones of those killed and injured in the bombing of the Karrada district in Baghdad July 4.
We stand with the people of Iraq and Syria and are resolved to defeat Daesh and liberate both countries from this gang of thugs and murderers that have killed and injured so many, " the colonel said before updating the press on OIR operations.
Daesh is another term for ISIL.
Transitioning in Fallujah
Beginning with operations in Iraq, Garver said that in Fallujah Iraqi security forces continue to transition control of the liberated city from the Iraqi army, federal police and the Counter-Terrorism Service inside the city to the hold force -- a combination of police and Anbari tribal fighters enrolled in the Popular Mobilization Forces program.
Elements of five Iraqi army divisions are continuing security operations in the suburbs around Fallujah. Transition to the hold force is ongoing and it is on an Iraqi timeline, " he said, but a few units have already moved from Fallujah to other locations. The last coalition strike into Fallujah in support of forces clearing the city was June 29. "
In northern Iraq, the colonel said, shaping operations continue in preparation for the eventual liberation of Mosul.
ISF fighters continue maneuvering toward Qayyarah along two axes, Garver said.
Toward Qayyarah Along the eastern axis, brigades of the 15th Iraqi Army Division continue clearing ISIL pockets from small villages to the southeast of Qayyarah. The 72nd Brigade continues to hold Kharabat Jabar and clear Hajj Ali, he said.
Ninevah police battalions are assuming the hold-force mission in the cleared towns of Kabruk, Mahanah and Kharbardan, Garver said. And in the last 24 hours, he added, the Combined Joint Task Force conducted two strikes in support of these forces.
On the western axis, the 9th Iraqi Army Division, supported by CTS forces, continued to attack north toward Qayyarah from Beiji, he said.
We have seen tactical repositioning from the forward elements due to enemy activity along the forward edge of their formation but have once again reoccupied their most forward positions south of the town of Ramadaniyat, " Garver said. The forces on this axis, he added, recently completed the clearing of the town of Makuhl.
Resistance along the western axis is light to moderate, and ISIL is using tactics that include earthworks, obstacle belts, indirect fire and suicide attacks, he said.
In the last week the coalition has conducted 11 strikes in the Qayyarah region in support of these operations, " the colonel added, and he reiterated the importance of Qayyarah and major towns in this area such as Sharqat.
Not only do we want to clear Qayyarah because Daesh controls it, " Garver said, but Qayyarah is also important because it is approximately 50 kilometers from Mosul. This intermediate step on the way to Mosul, just as we saw at Makhmour, will allow the Iraqi security forces to posture for the eventual big fight to liberate Mosul.
Foothold in Manbij
In Manbij, Syria, he said, the operation by the Syrian Democratic Forces, led on this attack by the Syrian Arab Coalition, continues to isolate the city and fight to seize a firm foothold there.
Garver said the fighting is tough and the resistance stiff against the partnered forces, and ISIL has tried to counterattack the inner cordon around Manbij and the outer cordon of the isolation force.
The SDF has repeatedly defeated Daesh`s attempts to punch a hole through the cordon, " the colonel said, noting that ISIL continues to use indirect fire and vehicle-borne bombs to disrupt the attack.
Since operations began May 21, the Syrian Arab Coalition has gained more than 1,000 kilometers and has been supported by more than 325 coalition strikes, Garver said.
Farther west on the Mara line, the vetted Syrian opposition and the affiliated moderate Syrian opposition have seized multiple villages from ISIL on the northern edge of the line, the colonel said, adding that coalition has seen rapid advances against ISIL-held villages of Tall Battal Shamail, Mazra`at Shahin, Qissah Jik and Tall Ahmar.
We`ve seen Daesh fighters leaving these previously defended towns to attempt to reinforce Manbij, " he said.
As the pressure increases against Daesh in Manbij, they are demonstrating more desperation to keep Daesh strategic crossroads open for access outside Syria. And as our partner forces continue to apply pressure to Daesh across Iraq and Syria, we also continue to pressure Daesh functionally as well, " Garver said.
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Photo Credit: Wikipedia