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Presenter: Colonel Christopher Garver, Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman; June 15, 2016

Department of Defense Press Briefing by Col. Garver via teleconference from Baghdad, Iraq


CAPTAIN JEFF DAVIS: Alright good morning everybody and good morning to you Colonel Garver just want to make sure you can hear us and we can hear you.

COLONEL CHRISTOPHER GARVER: I can hear you just fine, Jeff.

CAPTAIN JEFF DAVIS: Pleased to be joined today form Baghdad by the public affairs officer for CJTF, Operation Inherent Resolve, Colonel Chris Garver.

Chris, we'll turn it over to you for opening comments and then we'll come back here for questions.

COL. GARVER: All right. Thanks, Jeff.

Greetings from Baghdad, Pentagon Press Corps. It's good to see everybody again today. I've got an opening statement regarding major ongoing operations, and then I'll take your questions.

Now, the campaign to defeat Daesh across the breadth and depth of the combined area of operations in both Iraq and Syria continues. If we could bring up the map, please.

So as I discuss this, I'll focus first on Iraq in the Euphrates River Valley, star one and star two, and then I'll focus in the Tigris River Valley, star three, and then I'll move over to Syria, star four. Thank you, control room.

In Fallujah, we continue to see slow by steady progress on different axis around the city. The ISF continues to tighten the encirclement around Fallujah City. Brigades of two Iraqi divisions, the first division and the 14th division, are clearing the Fallujah suburbs to the north. The Iraqi 1st Division is also clearing neighborhoods to the southeast of Fallujah.

South and west of the Euphrates River, units of the 8th and 7th Divisions and the Anbar tribal fighters are clearing toward the north and toward the east, heading toward Fallujah City.

Counterterrorism service, Iraqi commandos and federal police units are inside the southern edge of the city itself. The fight against Daesh inside the city remains a slow, difficult fight, with Daesh continuing to offer stiff resistance with machine guns, indirect fire and IEDs and mine field belts.

Yesterday, Daesh attempted to attack these units with two vehicles outfitted as vehicle-borne IEDs. One was defeated by a coalition terrain denial strike -- it was stopped by a crater caused by one of our strikes -- and the second was defeated by fires from the unit.

The fighting remains intense inside the city, especially on the southern side. Coalition continues to attack Daesh targets inside the city in support of the ISF.

In the last seven days, we have conducted 19 strikes inside the city. We have hit tactical units and fighters, heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade teams, mortar systems, recoil-less rifles, anti-air artillery pieces, and Daesh vehicles. In addition to the coalition strikes, the Iraqi air force continues to attack targets in support of their ground forces as well.

The fighting also remains slow and careful because of the civilian situation inside the city. We've seen reporting that approximately 40,000 civilians from the greater Fallujah area have been evacuated. The Iraqi government and international organizations are working to support those who have left.

Elsewhere in the central Euphrates River valley, units continue to clear pockets of Daesh fighters on the north side of the Euphrates and secure those areas already cleared from counterattacks. From Hiit to Juba, units from three Iraqi army divisions and the CTS have repelled multiple local disrupting attacks and made steady progress clearing Daesh influence.

So the Iraqi security forces' main effort has moved to Fallujah and to Mosul. These units continue to conduct the slow, difficult, dangerous work of clearing IEDs and booby-traps, fighting off localized attacks, and engaging pockets of Daesh fighters where they find them. Daesh also continues to attempt suicide attacks with suicide vests and VBIEDs in this area. We continue to provide strikes in support of these operations. Yesterday, we conducted a dynamic strike near the town of Durab supporting these forces.

In northern Iraq, in the Tigris River valley, the Iraqi army brigades that launched from Makhmour two months ago, also resumed the attack to the east, seizing the towns of Koabit Jabur and Nasir. Resistance from Daesh fighters has been generally moderate, consisting of small-arms fire, indirect fire and VBIED use. Fighting continues in this area as the ISF clears these towns and continues the drive to the west. The coalition conducted 50 strikes in the last seven days and four strikes yesterday in support of this attack.

Secretary of Defense Carter announced on Monday that AH-64 Apaches had engaged a Daesh target in the fight for the first time since October, 2014. As you know, the Apaches have been here since then in a primarily force protection role. Monday early morning, Apaches engaged and destroyed a VBIED near Qayara. The Apaches remained well behind the forward line of troops and engaged with VBIED with the Hellfire missile, destroying it. All the aircraft returned safely after the mission.

The Iraqi government approved the use of Apaches, and as with all strikes, cleared and approved the fire. The Apaches provide another platform with significant capabilities into the already potent mix of aircraft and weapons systems the coalition is employing to defeat Daesh.

Shifting to Syria, the Syrian-Arab coalition-led attack of the Syrian Democratic Forces continues to advance on the city of Manbij. The SAC and other forces on the attack have encircled Manbij and are conducting the isolation phase, cutting off lines of communication into and out of the city. Manbij has improved roads running through the city north-south and east-west. Literally, it is a crossroads for Daesh lines of communication. And the SDF forces have seized control of those outer roads to prevent reinforcements and resupply from reaching the Daesh fighters in the city.

The fighting for Manbij has continued to be significant and at times heavy. Daesh continues to defend the area with machine guns, indirect fire, and IEDs. We've seen estimates of hundreds of Daesh fighters still in Manbij and they're continuing to defend the city. There are also indications that Daesh may be holding large groups of civilians as hostages and forcefully compelling citizens into fighting for them, as we have certainly seen before.

The SAC-led force is exercising great care in its application of firepower against Daesh in the city to avoid collateral damage and especially civilian casualties.

In the last seven days, the coalition has conducted 73 strikes in support of this attack. Coalition strikes have also destroyed three Daesh command and control nodes, which we assess as degrading Daesh enough to cause the fighters to fall back into the city.

Finally, I'd like to show a video of a recent coalition strike against an up-armored VBIED that took place in Fallujah on May 28th. We've talked before about these VBIEDs, and how they're designed to protect the driver as he pilots the vehicle towards a suicide attack.

In the video, you can see a truck that has been turned into an armored vehicle by bolting metal plates on the body of the vehicle, resulting in a very boxy shape. You can clearly see the metal plate that has been attached to the front of the vehicle as an additional shield.

The vehicle was detected by coalition surveillance and tracked on its movement before it was employed against an Iraqi Security Forces unit.

After the strike, the size of the explosion indicates the vehicle is filled with a significant amount of explosives.

So, roll the video, please.

(VIDEO PRESENTATION)

COL. GARVER: All right, thank you, DVIDS.

And with that, I'll take your questions -- for Bob, Lita, whoever is in the front row.

CAPT. DAVIS: We start today with Joe Tabet, from Al Hurra.

Q: Colonel Garver, I would like to -- to hear from you if -- if you could confirm this information that the coalition has given the YPG some restrictions to stay away from the Turkish border 50 -- 15 kilometers, to stay 15 kilometers away from the Turkish border, and mainly from Azaz to -- (inaudible).

Could you confirm that? Is that true?

COL. GARVER: The -- it's inaccurate, because the plan to reseize Manbij and clean Daesh out of that area is an SDF and Syrian-Arab coalition-led plan. It is not a coalition plan.

We're providing support, we help negotiate with the Turkish government and the -- you know, the other forces involved in the area.

But it is not a coalition plan. It is a SAC-led plan, it is an SDF plan.

Q: If I'm wrong -- so, I understand from you that the YPG has a freely -- can move freely along the Turkish border, the Syrian-Turkish border.

Is that -- is that accurate to say that?

COL. GARVER: Well, any member of the SDF would need to coordinate its movements with its own commander.

In this case, on this operation, the Syrian-Arab coalition is leading this attack. So, if a YPG unit wanted to move somewhere, it would need to clear that with its chain of command.

Again, not the coalition. This is a SDF, but Syrian-Arab coalition-led operation. So, if any YPG unit or any of the other forces that are a member of the SDF, because it's not just the YPG -- if any of the other forces wanted to move somewhere, they would clear that through their chain of command.

Q: Thank you, sir.

CAPT. DAVIS: Next we go to David Martin.

Q: Chris, the Apaches, are they -- had -- have they now been forward deployed to a new base up north, closer to the -- closer to Mosul?

COL. GARVER: Well, -- (inaudible) -- talk specifics, David, clearly, but there are Apaches located in different locations in the country.

CAPT. DAVIS: Courtney Kube.

Q: Hey, Chris. I want to ask about Fallujah. But just on the Apaches, so can you give us an idea of -- I think Secretary Carter announced that there was one strike that was carried out by Apaches. I don't remember if it was Monday, maybe, in -- near Makhmour. Have there been more strikes at least by Apaches?

COL. GARVER: No, that strike is the only strike that the Apaches have participated in up to this time.

Q: And then on Fallujah, when you say -- I think you said that they -- the CTS and the ISF have breached the southern edge, I think it was, of Fallujah. So can we say now that they are inside the actual city of Fallujah?

COL. GARVER: Yes, that is accurate. They are inside. They have a foothold in the southern corner or the southern edge of the city. But it's been a significant fight to grab that foothold, and so they're continuing to try to expand. As you always do when you enter into a city, you've got to grab a foothold and then push in.

We've seen the Iraqis like to push towards the center, seize the center and then fight outward. We saw them to do that in Fallujah, we've seen them do that in other place. So there's got -- you know, you've got to get in with that initial foothold to get it. But they've got that now, yes.

Q: (inaudible) -- stage now of Fallujah or are they still in sort of the encircling? And then have you -- and I know you guys don't like to talk about timelines, but can you give us any sense, now that they've actually breached the city, of -- of any kind of estimates of how long it might actually take to clear the city?

COL. GARVER: So on your first question -- I think I remember your first question. The -- yes, we can say that they are inside the city. But the encirclement of the city is still rolling out. We call that the isolation phase. That's still going on to prevent Daesh reinforcements, resupply -- (inaudible) -- fighters up and down the Euphrates River Valley or all the way from up in Mosul or elsewhere in -- in Iraq to come in to try to reinforce them.

We want to prevent that. We've got federal police and the PMF units on the outside completing that -- that isolation and also clearing, you know, the neighborhood and the suburbs on the outside as well. Inside in the city, though, they've started that attack into the center of the city, yes.

Second question was -- what's your second question again? Sorry, Courtney.

Q: That's okay. Just any kind of rough timeline on how -- how -- is it weeks or months for the -- how long the clearing phase might take?

COL. GARVER: And as you said, you know, we -- we don't like to estimate timelines. We've seen this -- this operation has been going on in this phase for approximately three weeks now. It's a tough fight and it gets tougher the closer we get into the city, the harder it gets. The distances that they move on a daily basis, the closer they get in, it gets -- they get smaller and the meters that you gain become tougher to gain, they become more significant as we get them.

But what we saw in Ramadi was once they got into the center of the city, things sped up in the clearing operation. So we haven't seen that yet and we're certainly looking for that. But I can't put a timeline on it. The -- but -- but we're -- we want this to go as quickly as we can and we want to, you know, provide them the support that they need to help that happen.

Q: Thank you.

CAPT. DAVIS: Next, we'll go to Andrew Tilghman of the Military Times.

Q: Hi, colonel.

Two questions on the Iraq side. One is Fallujah, the military base south of Fallujah that the Marines used to call Camp Fallujah -- are there any American advisers at that facility these days?

COL. GARVER: Andrew, that's a great question. I don't know off the top of my head. I would have to go back and take a look. I don't think so, but I would need to go back and check. We can go back and check that for you.

Q: I think you said that the Apaches up by Mosul were used in the town of Qayara. Could you elaborate a little bit on what's going on in Qayara? I mean, -- (inaudible) -- if that's a city of some strategic importance on the western side of the river. Is that -- have the Iraqi forces taken that? Is the fighting ongoing there? And is -- can you talk a little bit about the importance of that city?

COL. GARVER: Well, the VBIED was destroyed actually near Qayara, which I kind of just use as a reference point, and that's how we listed it on our strike release when it came out, because it wasn't inside the city itself. It was near Qayara.

The two towns that were taken near there -- Masour and the other town, they're close to Qayara. The attack is coming from east to west, and it's going to have to keep working toward Mosul as those forces -- (inaudible). But I don't want to get into specifics of defensive future operations or, you know, -- (inaudible) -- value of any future -- (inaudible) -- in that area -- (inaudible) -- the way that we talk about it -- (inaudible).

CAPT. DAVIS: Okay. Next, we'll go to Carla Babb, Voice of America.

Q: Hi, colonel. Thanks for doing this.

I have three quick topics to touch on. In Fallujah, my apologies if you said this, but when did they enter the south -- the southern part of the city? What day was that when the ISF entered Fallujah?

COL. GARVER: I think it was in the last couple of days. I'd have to go back and take a look to figure out the exact time, but it was within the last couple of days.

Q: And how many ISF are part of this operation currently, versus the number of estimated Islamic state fighters that -- that you estimate to be in there?

COL. GARVER: We've estimated the size of -- you know, we've seen different estimates of the size and number of Daesh inside the city. And clearly, you know, our strikes are having an effect on them. And so as we conduct those, we try to figure how many bad guys there are. We don't have a definitive number to tell you.

As for the number of SDF (sic ISF)involved, I don't want to give a specific number. I don't want to talk about specifics. But we've got multiple brigades from four different divisions; plus we've got CTS -- (inaudible) -- police, Anbar tribal fighters, all involved in the operations. Significant force that the Iraqis have put together to conduct this attack on Fallujah.

Q: Would it be safe to still say that hundreds of Islamic state fighters remain in Fallujah? Is that an accurate description?

COL. GARVER: That's I think an accurate estimate. We don't know exactly, and that's part of as they get in and they fight and we strike from the air, and we've got, as we talked about last week, ISR -- (inaudible) -- figure out how many bad guys are in there. We don't have a definitive number. So I think that's I think a close estimate -- (inaudible) -- some of the -- (inaudible).

Q: Thanks. And then on Baghdadi, do we have an update on whether or not al-Baghdadi has been hit or killed?

COL. GARVER: The -- I'll say what I had said to several of you yesterday. I don't have any specific to put out on that. We don't have any confirmation of that.

But I will say I went back and did a little more research, and the day he -- that news article claimed that we struck Raqqah -- and the way it described was a big strike, a massive strike -- we did not hit Raqqah on that day. On Friday the 10 of June, we didn't strike in Raqqah on that day. We did the next day with two small strikes, but the way they described it, we did not conduct that strike.

So I can't confirm one way or another. We don't know for sure. The fight against Daesh continues whether he is or not. But as you know, we've been targeting senior leaders of Daesh and if we've got an opportunity to get him, we would take it.

Q: And then my final question is on Manbij, something you said about the -- some of the citizens being forced to help Islamic State fighters fight. How have you been able to determine which citizens are being forced to stay and which are doing so willingly?

COL. GARVER: That'll certainly be one of the challenges as the Syrian Arab forces and the rest of the SDF approach the city and actually start to fight. If you're pressed into service, I would recommend throwing down your gun and throwing up your hands and then don't fight. If you fight, they're going to fight back.

And as we've seen in these attacks, Daesh is not doing well on the battlefield every time we mount an offensive against them. We saw that in the initial parts of this attack in northern Syria, we've seen that inside Iraq in multiple locations.

So if I were pressed into service and I didn't really want to fight for Daesh, I would surrender the first opportunity I got. I would drop my gun, I'd raise my hand and I would start yelling, "I surrender." And if you're, you know, a hardcore Daesh fighter and you're going to stand and fight, you're probably going to get killed or captured.

CAPT. DAVIS: Okay. Thanks. Next to June from Reuters.

Q: Hi, Chris. Can you give us an update on the humanitarian situation in Fallujah? What's -- how -- how is ISIS treating the civilian population? Are they being allowed to leave? Are they being trapped there? And then if they are allowed to leave, what's the interaction between the Sunnis who are leaving and the Shia arm groups that are there?

COL. GARVER: Well, clearly the humanitarian situation is something that everybody is looking carefully at, the humanitarian assistance groups that are here under the -- you know, the umbrella of the U.N. and the coalition is looking at this in an advisory role. And the, importantly, the Iraqi -- the government is looking at this carefully.

We had an outflow, if you will, kind of a standard outflow of -- (inaudible) -- reported 4,000 to 5,000 a day of people flowing out of not just the city of Fallujah, but the surrounding area as well. That had tripled back in the last 24 hours or so a little bit, but they -- they -- the estimates are somewhere around 40,000 citizens that have -- that have gone out.

The ones inside the city is -- you know, we're still concerned about and the ISF is still concerned and -- (inaudible). So -- (inaudible) -- significant flow into -- kind of getting out past the lines, if you will. The flow goes out through the fighters and -- and -- (inaudible) -- into a safer area -- (inaudible) -- is ongoing.

Talk about the safety of the Iraqi citizens. For the most part, the 40,000 people. There's -- (inaudible) -- things for the most part, that it is -- that they're being treated with respect. There have been some reports of this is not treating us -- (inaudible) -- with respect.

The prime minister -- as we talked about last week, the prime minister has ordered an investigation. And during the news in the last couple of days, there has been an announcement that there have been of some arrests in regards of how the people are treating by both the ISF and by the -- (inaudible) --.

So, it appears to us that the government is taking it seriously, and we think that that's the right course, because you know -- (inaudible) -- can be an issue.

But for the most part, they are coming out of the city in -- (inaudible) -- area have been fed well and it's a big problem period. It's a big problem and the Iraqis are struggling to recruit that. For the most part, people are being treated with respect.

Q: Just one other question. You referred to the ISIS fighters who were killed or captured.

What is the infrastructure to deal with the ISIS fighters who were captured? Has there been some sort of, like, detention center set up? Or what -- what's the plan to deal with them?

COL. GARVER: Talking about in Iraq or in Syria?

CAPT. DAVIS: In Iraq, she said.

COL. GARVER: Okay. The Iraqis are processing, and -- as you would, under the law of armed conflict, they're processing individuals -- when citizens pull out, they have to separate and screen to make sure that the good guys are separated from the bad guys, as one would expect.

When they're capturing fighters on the battle field, they are processing them from -- (inaudible) -- in accordance with the laws of armed conflict, something that we assess in our training.

But it's not a coalition role. This is a -- an Iraqi government role. The Iraqi government is in communication with the ICRC -- (inaudible) -- any specific questions to them, because it was -- it is an Iraqi-led, an Iraqi government issue in there.

Q: Do you have an estimate on how many fighters have been captured in Iraq.

COL. GARVER: I -- I don't, off the top of my head. I don't have an estimate.

CAPT. DAVIS: Okay, next to Nancy Youssef.

Q: Hi, Chris. To follow up on June's question, do you have any estimates of how many have been arrested in the Fallujah operations?

And also, does U.S. have any visibility on those detainees at all?

COL. GARVER: I'm sorry, I don't have an estimate of that. It's something we can go back and kind of see if we do need -- if we can put together with the Iraqi-led operation -- (inaudible) -- in dealing the processing and all of that.

When it comes to visibility, we're aware that we are not in -- we're not performing detention operations nor directly advising detention operations.

So, we maintain awareness if we can. We have advisers who are seeing, you know, down on the ground, with their divisions -- (inaudible) -- advisers are elsewhere. We're seeing this happen, but we don't have anybody specifically looking into it.

Q: And then, one of the things we'd heard in the run up to the operation in Fallujah was that -- suspicions from the Iraqi government that a lot of the -- those who involved in the bombings in Baghdad were coming in from Fallujah.

And yet, since these operations began, we have continued to see bombings in Baghdad. If I understand correctly, last Thursday, there were two suicide bombings in Baghdad.

I'm curious if the U.S. has any assessment about where these bombers are coming from. Are they coming from Fallujah? Are they residing in Baghdad? Do you have any idea how they're able to launch these attacks on Baghdad and from where?

COL. GARVER: (inaudible) -- we're looking at that closely with them as well. We are looking at what information and intelligence we can provide to the Iraqis to help them figure that out. I think you've got potentially bombers coming from different locations. We're certainly looking to see if the fighting in Fallujah has the effect that so many in the Iraqi government hope it will in terms of reducing the number of attacks on Baghdad.

But as you point out, there are still attacks going on in Baghdad. But as we gather information, and if we get actionable intelligence, and it were to indicate that the attack was coming from somewhere else, not from Fallujah -- (inaudible) -- or -- (inaudible) -- figure out where these attacks are coming from, then we will definitely share that with the Iraqis and help them deal with that problem.

Q: One question on Manbij, please. If I heard you correctly, I got -- if I understood you correctly, it seems that there is not as aggressive fighting in Manbij. And I'm curious if there's an assessment that ISIS is dedicating resources or fighters to protect Raqqah instead. Is there any indication that they've made a decision to try to protect Raqqah at the expense of Manbij?

COL. GARVER: Don't know if that is their intent, if they've decided to protect -- (inaudible). It's hard to rate their effort one way or another. We -- (inaudible) -- they're still fighting hard to try to keep -- try to keep Manbij. We've seen -- (inaudible) -- into Manbij from the outlying areas, and as the forces have encircled Manbij, close those lines of communications running out of Manbij. So we've seen forces kind of flowing back into the city.

So, as they -- (inaudible) -- area, as they're working their way in, I wouldn't say it's -- (inaudible) -- but they have gained -- (inaudible) -- that fighters are falling back into the city. So -- (inaudible).

Q: Thank you.

CAPT. DAVIS: Okay. Next to Lucas Tomlinson from Fox News.

Q: Colonel, just to follow up on June and Nancy's questions. You said that you've seen reports of some people -- some civilians leaving Fallujah that are not being treated with respect. But some of the reporting has been well beyond that -- some mass killings, fresh graves. Can you talk about those reports? Are you seeing primarily Iranian-backed Shia militias taking reprisals against some of these Sunni civilians leaving Fallujah?

COL. GARVER: (inaudible) -- we've seen the reporting of that. We have not seen that specifically. We are out in -- we're not out in an enforcement role investigating to figure that out. We don't have advisers with the PMF to -- (inaudible) -- our understanding of what they're doing -- (inaudible).

The -- but the prime minister has acknowledged that that is (inaudible). He has launched an investigation into the -- (inaudible). We've seen reporting that -- that several arrests have been made. And I don't know the scope or scale of any of that yet -- (inaudible) -- that investigation -- (inaudible) -- better idea.

I've seen -- (inaudible) -- reporting that it's very -- (inaudible) -- in scale and -- (inaudible) -- localized -- (inaudible). I don't know where the truth -- (inaudible).

Q: (inaudible) -- coalition that Iranian-backed forces, including Kasim Solimani's deputy, leading forces who have, you know, fought U.S. troops for years inside Iraq are carrying out some of these attacks. Is there concern that this is a -- a problem?

COL. GARVER: Well, we saw -- we saw inappropriate behavior. We saw -- (inaudible) -- last year around Tikrit. But clearly, it is a problem, something we're going to watch carefully. And in terms of who's doing it, we don't want anybody to do it. We don't think anybody who's inside Iraq should be, you know, conducting these types of behavior. You know, as citizens come out of Fallujah, they should be treated with respect and get them the help. That's the whole point.

Any -- (inaudible) -- fighting inside Iraq take their orders from the prime minister and should be part of that chain of command should be working towards helping the citizens of Fallujah, no matter who they are. That's what -- (inaudible).

CAPT. DAVIS: (inaudible) -- time -- we're having a hard time hearing. Are -- is your audio of us okay?

COL. GARVER: Yes. Lucas was a little soft at the very beginning of his question, but other than that, we have great -- we've got great audio.

CAPT. DAVIS: We're not hearing you well for some reason.

STAFF: DVIDS -- (inaudible) -- satellite and -- (inaudible) -- backup.

CAPT. DAVIS: Okay. All right. Well, I think we've only got a couple more questions anyway, so we'll press on rather than try to reconnect.

Brian Everstine from Air Force Magazine.

Q: Hi. At the beginning, you highlighted the Iraqi air force joining the fight in Fallujah and conducting airstrikes. I was wondering if you could quantify that? How many strikes have they flown? How many missions? And you said they're flying in support of their ground force, does that qualify -- are they flying close air support for advances on the city?

COL. GARVER: They are flying close air support missions. They're flying other deliberate flights as well. I don't have the numbers. They're -- (inaudible) -- tied into the coalition process. They directly control their own -- (inaudible) -- conducting strikes where they want. I don't have a specific number. We -- we have a -- there's an air control system that operates here in Iraq. We work within that, but we don't plan their missions as a part of our what we call air -- (inaudible).

They fly their missions -- (inaudible). I can tell you they have -- (inaudible) -- and they have armed helicopters that fly -- (inaudible) -- as well. But those -- (inaudible), we saw them flying in Baiji, we saw them -- we can see them flying in -- up near Mosul, we've seen them flying -- (inaudible).

CAPT. DAVIS: Yes, we were -- there was question here whether you said F-15s or F-16s?

COL. GARVER: F-16. F-16. That's the aircraft that the Iraqi -- (inaudible).

CAPT. DAVIS: Got it. We'll go to Tolga Tanis from --

Q: Hi. Hi, colonel. This is Tolga Tanis with -- (inaudible). Can you give an update regarding -- I mean, beyond this -- the clashed in Manbij between some civilian groups and the SDF forces, what is the estimate of the SDF, for example, who is attacking the town right now?

And is there any SDF soldiers who entered the city yet? Or if not, what's the -- what's the concern of the SDF right now to take over the city?

COL. GARVER: Well, the Syrian Arab coalition, part of the SDF, that whole forces is I believe about 3,500 fighters -- (inaudible). The -- no -- nobody on the attack has gotten into the city yet. They are around Manbij, but they have not entered the city yet. They still have to fight their way up to the city -- (inaudible) -- looking for them to kind of get that -- (inaudible) -- into the city, as we talked about earlier, and -- (inaudible). But they haven't -- (inaudible). Nobody is in the city of Manbij yet.

CAPT. DAVIS: Okay. Any other questions?

I apologize, everybody, for the audio. We'll try and figure out what caused that and hopefully at least get a clean copy of this posted for you.

Chris, any final comments from you?

COL. GARVER: Nope. I appreciate the opportunity to talk to everybody today. And General Chalmers is on the schedule -- our deputy commander is on the schedule for next week, so he'll be the briefer. But look forward to talking to everybody then.

CAPT. DAVIS: Thank you to Colonel Garver.

And thank you, everybody.

http://www.defense.gov/News/News-Transcripts/Transcript-View/Article/800223/



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