Iraqi Forces Pressure ISIS in West Mosul
By Terri Moon Cronk DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, May 5, 2017 – Iraqi security forces are ratcheting up the pressure to drive the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria out of western Mosul, Iraq, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, director of Pentagon press operations, told reporters today.
"There had been a bit of a slowdown in the progress recently, some due to weather, some due to repositioning," Davis said. "We now have some progress being made from the northwest, up and including the banks of the Tigris River."
Today marks the 76th day of the operation to liberate western Mosul, he said. "Yesterday, there were 24 square kilometers gained along the forward line of troops primarily in the northwest area, and since the west Mosul offensive started, 550 square kilometers have been retaken in west Mosul alone."
Near Mosul, Davis said, "we continue to conduct strikes, engaging ISIS tactical units and a sniper team, destroying mortar systems, fighting positions, heavy machine guns, tactical vehicles, ISIS-held buildings, an anti-air artillery system, a command-and-control node, a [vehicle-borne improvised explosive device], an ISIS bridge, a front-end loader, a weapons cache, a rocket system and a VBIED factory as well as fighting positions. So, the airstrikes in support of this new line of effort is considerable."
In Syria, the area in and around the town of Tabqah remains the focus of effort, Davis said.
"We're ferrying Syrian Democratic Forces across the river and bringing them in by air, [which] has made considerable progress in first isolating and now liberating Tabqah," he said.
As of this morning, he added, more than 80 percent of Tabqa has been cleared. ISIS still controls the Tabqah Dam, "but it's doing so right now hanging on by a thread, in terms of their ability to control," Davis said.
"Tabqah and Tabqah dam are two of the final elements required to isolate Raqqa," he said, adding it is very difficult for ISIS fighters get across the Euphrates River, and its bridges in Raqqa have been taken out.
"And the SDF now controls [land] up the river banks to Raqqa," he said.
As the SDF encircles the dam, coalition forces can continue to monitor the water level and the infrastructure security to prevent ISIS from threatening Syrians throughout the Raqqa valley, he said.
"We continue to support our partners' operations to isolate Raqqa and have conducted dozens of successful strikes in the past week against ISIS fighting positions and weapons systems," Davis said.
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