ISIS


Coalition Trainers in Iraq Helping ‘Make a Good Force Better’

Coalition Trainers in Iraq Helping ‘Make a Good Force Better’

The coalition training effort in Iraq is all about “making a good force better,” said Italian army Brig. Gen. Roberto Vannacci, the deputy commanding general for training for Operation Inherent Resolve’s Joint Forces Land Component Command in Iraq.

Iraqi security forces continue to press the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria by rooting out and destroying pockets of ISIS terrorists in the country. From the nadir when ISIS was knocking on the gates of Baghdad, Iraqi forces have taken on the terror group and liberated almost all of the territory the group once held.

The trainers of the coalition’s Operation Inherent Resolve gave Iraqi security forces the training they needed to expel the violent extremist group, Vannacci said during a video teleconference from Baghdad to reporters in the Pentagon.

“By all measures, the Iraqi security forces have already proven that they are more than ready and capable of securing the country,” Vannacci said. “On May the 12th, Iraq’s first national election since the rise of ISIS was held peacefully despite repeated warnings from ISIS of their intent to use violence to discourage Iraqis from voting. This is mostly thanks to the training and preparations conducted by Iraqi security forces to ensure that all Iraqis were able to exercise their right to vote free from fear of harm.”

Vannacci said the coalition continues the mission to train and equip Iraqi security forces, to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS, and to set the conditions for full-on stabilization efforts.

“To date, more than 150,000 Iraqi security forces have been trained across multiple locations in Iraq,” the general said.

That training runs the gamut from full-on combat to policing to stabilization, he said.

Demining, Lifesaver Training

In addition to basic combat skills, the coalition trainers have also stressed demining operations and combat lifesaver training. “In Western Baghdad, more than 25,000 police and border guard personnel have been trained in law enforcement and border security procedures,” Vannacci said.

And, more than 18,000 members of Iraq’s elite counterterrorism force received coalition training, the general said.

The coalition also trains and equips the Iraqi air force, Vannacci said. This, he said, includes training Iraqis to fly and maintain their aircraft.

Training the Iraqi forces is a multinational effort, the general said. “Australian forces in Taji and Spanish forces in Bismayah are training ground troops,” Vannacci said. “In the Kurdish region and in western Baghdad, Italian personnel are training army and police forces. Also, German forces are providing training in the Kurdish region while Danish forces are leading the training in Al Asad Air Base.”

The coalition has also provided Iraqi forces with more than $2 billion in equipment, the general said.

Providing Equipment

“Seventeen Iraqi army brigades have been provided with initial equipment sets, including personal equipment, small arms, ammunition, around 1,000 nontactical vehicles and over 1,100 armored vehicles,” Vannacci said.

Efforts to train police and border guards continue apace with the coalition providing additional equipment to around 20 federal police and border force brigades, including provisioning more than 180 prefabricated, border guard and police presence infrastructure since the beginning of 2018, he said.

The coalition has also provided more than 400 explosive detection and demining kits to assist in the detection and removal of improvised explosive devices, Vannacci said.

Iraqi security forces have shown their worth as part of the coalition by conducting strikes in Syria, where they targeted ISIS activity designed to export violence, the general said.

“The hard-fought victories in Ramadi, Mosul and Tel Afar prove that the Iraqi security forces have always been capable of fighting for the freedom of all Iraqis,” Vannacci said. “The coalition’s goal is simply to make a good force better and to enhance to capability of the Iraqi security forces to ensure Iraq’s lasting peace and security. By all measures, they are well on their way.”

(Source: US Dept of Defense)

Coalition Strikes Hit ISIS Terrorists in Syria, Iraq

Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve and its partners continued to strike Islamic State of Iraq and Syria targets in designated parts of Syria and Iraq between May 4-10, conducting 53 strikes consisting of 63 engagements, Combined task force officials reported on Friday.

Strikes in Syria

  • On May 10, coalition military forces conducted four strikes consisting of four engagements against ISIS targets. Three took place near Abu Kamal. Near Dayr Az Zawr, a strike destroyed an ISIS artillery piece.
  • On May 9, coalition military forces conducted four strikes consisting of four engagements against ISIS targets. Two took place near Abu Kamal. Near Shadaddi, a strike destroyed an ISIS vehicle-borne improvised explosive device factory. Near Dayr Az Zawr, a strike destroyed an ISIS IED belt.
  • On May 8, coalition military forces conducted five strikes consisting of five engagements against ISIS targets. Near Abu Kamal, four strikes destroyed three ISIS VBIED factories. Near Shadaddi, a strike destroyed an ISIS VBIED factory.
  • On May 7 near Abu Kamal, coalition military forces conducted six strikes consisting of six engagements against ISIS targets, engaging an ISIS tactical unit.
  • On May 6, coalition military forces conducted eight strikes consisting of 13 engagements against ISIS targets. Near Abu Kamal, five strikes engaged one ISIS tactical unit, destroying an ISIS staging area, a supply route, an ISIS-held building and a command-and-control center. Near Shadaddi, three strikes destroyed an ISIS fighting position, a mortar position and two VBIED factories.
  • On May 5, coalition military forces conducted 12 strikes consisting of 12 engagements against ISIS targets. Near Abu Kamal, 10 strikes destroyed two ISIS weapons caches and a logistics hub. Near Shadaddi, two strikes destroyed a vehicle and an ISIS security post.
  • On May 4 near Abu Kamal, coalition military forces conducted seven strikes consisting of seven engagements against ISIS targets, destroying an ISIS supply cache, a supply route, two IED factories and an ISIS vehicle storage facility.

Strikes in Iraq

  • On May 9 near Rutbah, coalition military forces conducted two strikes consisting of six engagements against ISIS targets, destroying two buildings and a vehicle.
  • On May 7 near Kisik, coalition military forces conducted a strike consisting of one engagement against ISIS targets, destroying three ISIS tunnels and a weapons cache.
  • On May 5, coalition military forces conducted three strikes consisting of three engagements against ISIS targets.  Near Mosul, two strikes destroyed seven ISIS tunnel systems. Near Makhmur, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed an ISIS cave.
  • On May 4 near Hawayjah, coalition military forces conducted a strike consisting of two engagements against ISIS targets, destroying an ISIS vehicle.

Part of Operation Inherent Resolve

These strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The destruction of ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria also further limits the group’s ability to project terror and conduct external operations throughout the region and the rest of the world, task force officials said.

The list above contains all strikes conducted by fighter, attack, bomber, rotary-wing or remotely piloted aircraft; rocket-propelled artillery; and ground-based tactical artillery, officials noted.

A strike, as defined by the coalition, refers to one or more kinetic engagements that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single or cumulative effect.

For example, task force officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIS vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against a group of ISIS-held buildings and weapon systems in a compound, having the cumulative effect of making that facility harder or impossible to use. Strike assessments are based on initial reports and may be refined, officials said.

The task force does not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.

(Source: US Dept of Defense)

68 Iraqi Civilians Killed in April

A total of 68 Iraqi civilians were killed and another 122 injured in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in Iraq in April 2018*, according to casualty figures recorded by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

The figures include ordinary citizens and others considered civilian at the time of death or injury, such as police in non-combat functions, civil defence, personal security teams, facilities protection police and fire department personnel.

Of the overall figures recorded by UNAMI for the month of April, the number of civilians killed (not including police) was 64, while the number of injured (not including police) was 121.

Anbar was the worst affected Governorate, with 53 civilian casualties (24 killed, 29 injured), followed by Baghdad with 8 killed and 30 injured, and Kirkuk with 10 killed and 21 injured.

“The casualty figures reported continue steadily to decline after the military defeat of Dae’sh last year. This is good news, but the best news will be when Iraq is completely free of the threat of terrorism and is at peace,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Iraq Ján Kubiš.

*CAVEATS: The figures reported have to be considered as the absolute minimum. UNAMI has been hindered in effectively verifying casualties in certain areas due to volatility of the situation on the ground and the disruption of services. In some cases, UNAMI could only partially verify certain incidents. Figures for casualties from Anbar Governorate were provided by the Health Directorate and might not fully reflect the real number of casualties in the Governorate.

(Source: United Nations)

US Closes Ground Ops Command in Iraq

The Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command headquarters was deactivated today at a ceremony in Baghdad, signifying the end of major combat operations in Iraq against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and acknowledging the changing composition and responsibilities of the coalition.

CJFLCC was responsible for coalition land force operations in support of Iraqi security forces during the campaign to defeat ISIS in Iraq and liberate more than 4.5 million Iraqis subject to ISIS’ brutal control.

Iraqi and coalition leaders attended the ceremony that formally transferred CJFLCC’s command authorities to Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve and featured a traditional casing of the colors ceremony.

“Casing the CJFLCC colors is a symbolic gesture, honoring the perseverance and sacrifice of our coalition partners,” said Army Maj. Gen. Walter Piatt, the former commander of CJFLCC. “Thanks to our partnered success, we are able to continue our support to the government of Iraq under the unified command of CJTF-OIR.”

Iraqi Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool Abdullah, spokesman for Iraqi security forces, said CJFLCC has been an integral part of Iraq’s success against ISIS.

“The commitment and professionalism of all the men and women from all the coalition nations has been of the highest order, and Iraq is immensely grateful for their sacrifice and dedication in this task,” he said. “We look forward to taking the partnership forward with the Combined Joint Task Force, and a friendship that will endure for years to come.”

With the deactivation of CJFLCC, its train, advise, assist and equip missions in support of Iraqi forces are now consolidated under a single headquarters, reflecting the coalition’s commitment to eliminate unnecessary command structures as the nature of its support to Iraq evolves from supporting and enabling combat operations to the training and development of self-sufficient Iraqi security-related capabilities.

(Source: US Dept of Defense)

Women, Children with perceived ties to IS Denied Aid

Women and children with perceived ties to IS denied aid, sexually exploited and trapped in camps

Iraqi women and children with perceived ties to the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) are being denied humanitarian aid and prevented from returning to their homes, with an alarming number of women subjected to sexual violence, Amnesty International said in a new report published today.

The Condemned: Women and Children Isolated, Trapped and Exploited in Iraq reveals widespread discrimination against women living in camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) by security forces, members of camp administrations and local authorities, who believe these women are affiliated to IS.

Amnesty International established that sexual exploitation was occurring in each of the eight camps that Amnesty researchers visited.

“The war against IS in Iraq may be over, but the suffering of Iraqis is far from over. Iraqi women and children with perceived ties to IS are being punished for crimes they did not commit,” said Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International.

More here from Amnesty International.

(Source: Amnesty International)

ISIS Suspects’ Homes Confiscated

Iraqi security officers are denying immediate relatives of suspected Islamic State (also known as ISIS) members security clearance to reclaim homes being occupied or to seek compensation, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said today.

Security forces have also destroyed or confiscated some property. Such acts, based only on family relationships to ISIS suspects rather than individual security determinations, are a form of collective punishment.

“These families deserve the same protections that Iraqi courts provide to all citizens,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Courts should be the guarantors against discrimination that will only further sectarian divisions in the country and delay needed reconciliation.”

More here from HRW.

(Source: HRW)

104 Iraqi Civilians Killed in March

A total of 104 Iraqi civilians were killed and another 177 injured in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in Iraq in March 2018*, according to casualty figures recorded by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

The figures include ordinary civilians and others who can be considered civilian at the time of death or injury – police in non-combat function, civil defence, Personal Security Detail, facilities protection police, and fire department personnel.

Of the overall figures recorded by UNAMI for the month of March, the number of civilians killed (not including police) was 84, while the number of injured (not including police) was 164 Baghdad was the worst affected Governorate, with 124 civilian casualties (33 killed, 91 injured), followed by Salah al-Din with 12 killed and 26 injured, and Anbar with 11 killed and 22 injured.

*CAVEATS: The figures reported have to be considered as the absolute minimum. UNAMI has been hindered in effectively verifying casualties in certain areas due to volatility of the situation on the ground and the disruption of services. In some cases, UNAMI could only partially verify certain incidents. Figures for casualties from Anbar Governorate were provided by the Health Directorate and might not fully reflect the real number of casualties in the Governorate.

(Source: United Nations)

General Highlights Airpower in Fight Against ISIS

Airpower has been a key factor as Operation Inherent Resolve continues to achieve milestones in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a senior OIR officer told Pentagon reporters via satellite from Baghdad today.

“Coalition airpower in support of the Iraqi security forces has been extremely successful in the destruction of ISIS in Iraq,” said Air Force Brig. Gen. Andrew A. Croft, deputy commander for air in OIR’s Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command.

“From the herculean effort in Mosul to the rapid victories in Tal Afar, Hawaijah and westward through the Euphrates River valley, the coalition supported the Iraqis by, with and through strategy,” Croft said.

The strategy has been “wildly successful,” he added, enabling Iraqi security forces to reclaim their territory from a “barbaric enemy” and allowing coalition forces to minimize their footprint in Iraq.

Coalition bombs dropped in Iraq and Syria last week were the lowest total since the beginning of OIR in 2014, an indication that ISIS is totally fragmented, Croft said, though some ISIS remnants are still in Iraq.

Train, Advise, Assist

The coalition’s job now is to enhance these capabilities within the Iraqi aviation enterprise through its train, advise and assist mission,” Croft said. A coalition aviation and training team, or CAAT, stood up in February to leverage the U.S. and coalition forces already deployed to Iraq, the general told reporters.

“We will do this by working with pilots, technicians and planers to increase the effectiveness in areas such as basic and advance flight training support to Iraqi ground forces, medical evacuation, aircraft maintenance and logistics,” he explained.

The Iraqis already have achieved several milestones since the CAAT stood up, Croft said, including reopening their air force academy in late February.  Iraqi forward air controllers conducted a live-fire exercise in early March, he added, calling in training airstrikes from coalition aircraft for the first time.

By midsummer, he said, the CAAT will be an air force wing manned by about 350 U.S. members and 100 to 120 coalition members.

“Instead of bringing people in, we repurpose current airmen that are doing jobs in support of combat operations,” the general said. “As those combat operations drop off, we repurpose those airmen into that training environment.”

(Source: US Dept of Defense)

Coalition Continues Partnership with Iraq Against ISIS

A U.S.-led coalition task force named Task Force Lion, part of Operation Inherent Resolve, is continuing its efforts to support the Iraqi government in its fight against the remnant forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the task force’s commander told reporters at the Pentagon today via satellite from Iraq.

Task Force Lion’s mission is to advise, assist, and enable the Iraqi security forces and build their capacity through training programs. The task force includes all four U.S. services, as well as coalition partners from seven different nations.

“We are the fifth rotation of this advise-and-assist task force, which began in late 2014, and we have been fortunate during our tour to participate in the ISF assault to liberate the last of the urban centers of the Middle Euphrates River valley that were under ISIS control here in western Anbar province,” Marine Corps Col. Seth W. B. Folsom said.

Leveraging Coalition Assets

The task force has routinely engaged with senior Iraqi unit leaders, assisting them in operational planning and intelligence collection, he said. Task Force Lion also has worked closely with Iraqi forces to leverage coalition intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and the coalition’s fire support capabilities to target and destroy ISIS forces over the last six months, he added.

From September to November, Folsom told reporters, Task Force Lion supported the Iraqi operation to take back the cities of Rayhanah, Anah, Qaim and Rawah. To accomplish the mission and support the Iraqi forces in their advance across more than 3,700 square miles of battle space, he said, the task force built three forward-positioned, expeditionary firebases and command centers with Iraqi partners, and the Marines, soldiers, sailors, and airmen conducted nearly 100 tactical ground movements totaling more than 11,000 miles.

In the three years since ISIS seized much of Iraq, the terrorists had prepared a daunting array of defenses along the main route through the Euphrates River valley, Folsom said, including minefields composed of hundreds of improvised explosive devices.

In those three years, ISIS fighters subjugated the Iraqi citizens across Anbar province and one of the greatest concerns the task force had as they helped the ISF plan and execute their operation was the potential for civilian casualties, he added.

Clear Mandate

“Our mandate was clear: the Iraqi citizens had already suffered enough under ISIS’ unjust rule, and so it was imperative that we avoid civilian casualties,” Folsom said.

Since the Iraqi forces liberated western Anbar, life for the Iraqis there has slowly begun returning to some semblance of normalcy, the colonel said.  The Iraqi forces are working closely with civil authorities to stabilize towns such as Anah and Rawah, restoring essential services, and removing hundreds of pieces of unexploded ordnance left behind by ISIS to kill, maim, and terrorize returning Iraqi citizens, he said.

Internally displaced persons are returning to Anbar in greater and greater numbers, Folsom said, noting that least 20,000 out of 30,000 citizens who were there have returned to Anbar.

“[The Iraqi security forces] are right to be proud of their accomplishments,” the colonel said. “My team and I are likewise proud to have worked with our Iraqi partners during this critical moment in the history of their country.”

ISIS no longer controls any of the population centers in Iraq, Folsom said, but small ISIS elements still seek sanctuary in remote areas in the deserts and mountains, and ISIS elements are attempting to re-establish themselves in populated areas.

Iraqi Priorities

The terrorist organization has one goal in Iraq, and that is to survive, Folsom told reporters. The Iraqi general he advises hasn’t changed his posture in the last year, he added, and has continued to make it a priority to secure the urban centers and the major routes throughout the province and to secure and reinforce the border with Syria and o hunt down the small pockets of ISIS fighters in the desert. The Iraqi general is fond of saying, ‘ISIS began in the desert, and we’re going to finish them in the desert,’ Folsom said.

“When I think about ISIS as it is now, these small pockets of fighters who are having problems communicating with each other and building a coherent strategy — I can say with confidence that their days are numbered,” Folsom said. Iraq’s national elections are approaching, he noted, and he said he is advising his Iraqi partners as they develop their plans to safeguard that important milestone.

The task force’s training effort to build and develop the Iraqi border guard forces remains constant, Folsom said, as does its effort to continue the professional development of the Iraqi security forces at all levels.

“Iraq’s future is brighter than it was three years ago, and the men and women of Task Force Lion remain committed to our partnership with the [Iraqi forces] to ensure the people of Iraq never again have to face the horrors of ISIS,” Folsom said.

(Source: US Dept of Defense)