ISIS


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)

Video: Unexploded Bombs continue to haunt Mosul

From Al Jazeera. Any opinions expressed are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Eight months after US-backed forces drove ISIL from Iraq’s second-largest city Mosul, unexploded bombs, mortars and other explosives still litter the streets.

The UN says most of them are buried under an estimated 11 tonnes of destroyed buildings.

It warns removing them all could take “many years”.

Al Jazeera‘s Imtiaz Tyab reports:

 

Iran says IS Resurgence could Hamper Iraq Oil Deal

By Adnan Abu Zeed for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The Islamic State (IS) appears to be staging a comeback in parts of Iraq, which could endanger the country’s oil deal with Iran.

Hamid Hosseini, the Iranian secretary-general of the Iran-Iraq Chamber of Commerce, warned in late February that the countries’ plan can’t be implemented fully because of security concerns. The countries signed a bilateral agreement in July 2017 to install a pipeline to transport Kirkuk’s crude oil to Iran to be refined. In the meantime, the oil is being transported by trucks, which are vulnerable to attacks.

The Kurdish military, or peshmerga forces, took control of Kirkuk in 2014 after Iraqi forces fled as IS swept through the area. But in October, Iraqi forces reclaimed the oil-rich territory from the Kurds.

IS has been blamed for numerous recent attacks in the area. On Feb. 19, IS fighters ambushed a convoy of the Baghdad government’s Shiite Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) in the Hawija district, southwest of Kirkuk, killing 27. On Feb. 27, gunmen had targeted the Turkmen Front with a rocket shell. Since Hosseini’s warning, security has deteriorated both in Kirkuk and Hawija. Local authorities have called for military enforcement.

Masrour Barzani, the head of Kurdistan security, stressed that the “IS offensive in Kirkuk province is not coming to an end anytime soon.”

These developments cast clouds of uncertainty over any investment attempts in Kirkuk city, particularly in the oil sector. Yet Rakan al Jibouri, Kirkuk’s Baghdad-appointed interim governor, doesn’t agree, though he acknowledges “there are unsecured areas.”

“This won’t obstruct the development of oil facilities and exportation projects, as the agreement signed by the [Iraqi] Ministry of Oil on Feb. 8 to construct a new refinery clearly demonstrates otherwise,” Jibouri told Al-Monitor.

Ministry spokesman Asim Jihad also told Al-Monitor the present security situation won’t affect Kirkuk oil investments. “The Iranian official’s [Hosseini’s] statement reflects his state’s point of view. The Iraqi side is committed to upholding the agreement as long as Iran is not backing down.”

Jihad said the contract provides for exporting 30,000-60,000 barrels of oil a day via trucks from Kirkuk fields to the border zone near Kermanshah, Iran.

“Work is still underway to install an oil pipeline to Iran with a capacity of over 250,000 barrels [per day],” Jihad added. “Moving forward, we are going to stop using trucks, which are more exposed, require more security measures and cost more.”

Moreover, one of the reasons behind the agreement was “Iran’s need of large amounts of Iraqi oil for refinement purposes, as well as for complementary industries in Iranian areas across [the border].” Jihad said Iraq will also benefit because it will be able to export oil abroad at lower costs.

All that said, however, Jihad noted the Oil Ministry has no authority to assess the security situation: “The ministry is only concerned with the technical end of things.”

Iskander Witwit, a member of the Iraqi parliament’s Security and Defense Committee, contradicted Hosseini’s evaluation. “We haven’t recorded any indications of oil investments in Kirkuk being too risky,” Witwit told Al-Monitor.

He said the Kurdish peshmerga wants “security anarchy so that the oil trade project between Iraq and Iran fails, because the [Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)] wants oil to be transported through its soil.” The KRG, he said, “seeks to stop all oil and economic projects as long as Kirkuk is not under its control.”

Witwit also challenged a statement by Hosseini that security is at risk because Iran doesn’t have X-ray machines to inspect trucks coming from Iraq.

“This is an irrational reason,” Witwit said. “Truck security is both countries’ responsibility, and oil-transporting trucks are registered and take off from secured points to their designated destination. Therefore, they can’t possibly be used for any other purposes, considering the strict security measures in oil zones. Also, army and PMU troops are dispatched throughout the route used by the trucks.”

Meanwhile, it appears Iraq is moving ahead to expand its export options. Aziz Abdullah, the head of the Iraqi parliament’s Oil and Energy Committee, told Al-Monitor, “Talks between the [Iraqi] federal government and the [KRG] government on transporting oil via Ceyhan [Turkey] pipe have reached advanced stages.”

Ahmad al Askari, the head of the Energy Committee of the Kirkuk Provincial Council, believes those talks reflect Iraq’s “new direction not to solely rely on one window that could be shut on account of political disagreements.”

Speaking to Al-Monitor, Askari added, “Political and security concerns compelled Iraq to consider more than one means of exporting Kirkuk oil. Iraq started a pipeline to Turkey’s Ceyhan port that doesn’t go through the [Kurdish] region, besides the one that does go through the region. In addition, trucks have been moving to Iran since Iraqi forces took over Kirkuk.”

Latest Strikes Against ISIS 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 Feb. 23-March 1, conducting 23 strikes consisting of 35 engagements, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported.

Strikes in Syria

Yesterday in Syria, coalition military forces conducted two strikes consisting of two engagements against ISIS targets near Abu Kamal. The strikes destroyed an ISIS motorcycle and two weapons caches.

On Feb. 28, coalition military forces conducted three strikes consisting of four engagements against ISIS targets near Abu Kamal. The strikes engaged two ISIS tactical units and destroyed an ISIS supply route and an ISIS-held building.

On Feb. 27, coalition military forces conducted four strikes consisting of five engagements against ISIS targets near Abu Kamal. The strikes engaged an ISIS tactical unit, destroyed an ISIS vehicle and a supply route and damaged a unmanned aerial vehicle.

On Feb. 26, coalition military forces conducted three strikes consisting of seven engagements against ISIS targets near Abu Kamal. The strikes engaged an ISIS tactical unit, destroyed an ISIS supply route and damaged a mortar.

On Feb. 25, coalition military forces conducted a strikes consistin of two engagements against ISIS targets near Abu Kamal. The strikes engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed three fighting positions.

On Feb. 24, coalition military forces conducted two strikes consisting of two engagements against ISIS targets near Abu Kamal. The strikes engaged two ISIS tactical units and destroyed a heavy machine gun and a fighting position.

On Feb. 23, coalition military forces conducted two strikes consisting of three engagements against ISIS targets:

  • Near Abu Kamal, a strike destroyed a fighting position.
  • Near Shadaddi, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit and an improvised explosive device facility.

Strikes in Iraq

There were no reported strikes in Iraq on Feb. 28-March 1.

On Feb. 27, coalition military forces conducted two strikes consisting of two engagements against ISIS targets:

  • Near Kirkuk, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit.
  • Near Qayyara, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed two ISIS-held buildings.

There were no reported strikes in Iraq on Feb. 26.

On Feb. 25, coalition military forces conducted two strikes consisting of two engagements against ISIS targets:

  • Near Asad, a strike destroyed an ISIS-held cave.
  • Near Rutbah, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed two ISIS vehicles and a weapons cache.

On Feb. 24, coalition military forces conducted a strike consisting of one engagement against ISIS targets near Hawijah. The strike destroyed an ISIS weapons cache.

On Feb. 23, coalition military forces conducted a strike consisting of one engagement against ISIS targets near Hawijah. The strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit.

Additional Strikes in Iraq

On Feb. 22, coalition military forces conducted a strike consisting of three engagements against ISIS targets near Hawijah. The strikes engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed an ISIS watercraft.

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)

91 Iraqi Civilians Killed in February

A total of 91 Iraqi civilians were killed and another 208 injured in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in Iraq in February 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 Details, facilities protection police, and fire department personnel.

Of the overall figures for February, the number of civilians killed (not including police) was 86, while the number of injured (not including police) was 202.

Baghdad was the worst affected Governorate, with 195 civilian casualties (49 killed, 146 injured). Anbar Governorate followed, with 14 killed and 37 injured, and Diyala had 12 killed and 11 injured.

*CAVEATS: UNAMI has been hindered in effectively verifying casualties in certain areas; in some cases, UNAMI could only partially verify certain incidents. For these reasons, the figures reported have to be considered as the absolute minimum.

(Source: United Nations)

Iraqis Continue Security and Clearance Operations

Iraqis Continue Security, Clearance Operations In Territory Once Held by ISIS

With U.S.-led coalition forces in a supporting role, Iraqi security forces continue security and clearance operations in the campaign to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the director of Pentagon Press Operations, Army Col. Robert Manning told reporters today.

“In Baghdad, [Iraqi] patrol presence continues to lower lawlessness and criminal activity in that area,” he said.

In the Middle Euphrates River Valley, Iraqi forces destroyed an ISIS-held cave network and weapons cache, the colonel said.

“In Kirkuk, an ISIS suicide bomber attack on a government building was foiled by the [Iraqis], resulting in the bomber’s vest detonating, killing the terrorist but not injuring any friendly forces or civilians,” Manning said.

Strikes Near Rutbah

During the past 72 hours, U.S.-led coalition dynamic strikes engaged ISIS targets near Rutbah in Anbar province, the colonel said, adding that the strikes resulted in several enemies killed and the destruction of two pickup trucks, a weapons cache and an encampment.

In Syria, Manning said, Syrian Democratic Forces continue to achieve gains against ISIS in the Euphrates River Valley, and also fortified defensive positions in the Middle Euphrates River Valley.

(Source: US Dept of Defense)

Islamic State buying up Businesses in Iraq

By John Lee.

The Islamic State group (IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) has reportedly laundered its cash reserves by investing in legitimate businesses in Iraq and elsewhere.

According to a report from The Economist, in Iraq it has used middlemen to buy farms, car-dealerships, hotels and hospitals.

It adds that weak institutions and rampant corruption make it hard for Iraq to tackle the problem.

Read the full article from The Economist here.

(Source: The Economist)

Tribal Disputes Flare in over Water Scarcity

By Mustafa Saadoun for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News

Tribal disputes flare in southern Iraq over water scarcity

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi gave instructions on Feb. 11 to stop the encroachment upon water quotas and increase the water share to Al-Mejar district in Maysan province in southern Iraq.

Abadi’s instructions came days after tribal conflicts in Iraq’s southern provinces broke out over agricultural land water quotas, prompting activists in the province to launch a campaign titled Save the Tigris in a bid to end the water crisis. There are already conflicts plaguing those provinces — especially Basra, where water issues between the southern tribes have already escalated into armed conflicts.

Hassanein al-Munshid, a civil activist in a local campaign in Maysan province working to end the water crisis, told Al-Monitor, “Tribal conflicts are intensifying in the province because of the water crisis, which might lead to additional fighting.”

He added, “There is a tribal sheikh in the northern areas of Maysan province controlling the water flow of the Tigris River to irrigate his farms. There are top officials who are aware of his acts of encroachment, but the government cannot do anything about it.”

For security reasons, Munshid did not name the sheikh.

The Iraqi government is doing its best to face the drought that hit the southern provinces due to the lack of water flowing from Turkey, which is the source of the Euphrates River. Most areas of the south and the middle Euphrates depend on the water flowing from the Euphrates.

Majid al-Gharabi, a sheikh in Diwani province, told Al-Monitor, “The reason behind the tribal differences over water is that some clans are diverting the flow of water to prevent it from reaching the farms of other tribes.”

On Jan. 21, Iraqi Minister of Water Resources Hasan al-Janabi wrote on his Facebook page that “Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in front of Abadi that Turkey is committed to postponing the filling of the Ilisu Dam and that the Turkish president is committed [to not harming] Iraq. We definitely have specific demands we seek to achieve peacefully and diplomatically in this regard.”

In an interview published by Foreign Policy Concepts on Jan. 7, the Iraqi minister said the country’s water scarcity is intensified by excessive control measures in the upper reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

Of note, 70% of the water that flows into Iraq comes from outside of Iraq’s borders, and this issue — just like any other — affects and is affected by politics, so Turkey’s construction of the Ilisu Dam faced strong Iraqi objections given the risks of drought it entails for Mesopotamia.

In the province of Dhi Qar alone, 20 clan clashes erupted recently due to water scarcity, according to Mayor Hussein Ali Raddad of the Islah district, who also confirmed that the local government in the province failed to reach any solutions regarding the issue.

Ali Raddad told Al-Monitor, “The crisis we are facing now lies in the tribal conflicts that sometimes escalate into violence.”

Iraqi officials say the reason behind the water crisis in the country is that not enough water is flowing into Iraq from Turkey, warning of a looming “disaster” in the coming months.

Meanwhile, a number of citizens blame the Iraqi government for the tribal conflicts erupting in the country, saying the government is incapable of monitoring the distribution of water quotas to farmers. Some tribes are not getting their share of the water while others are getting more than their specified quota, citizens told Radio Nawa.

Water is not sufficiently flowing into farms from the main sources in their provinces, worsening the issues between tribes.

The water crisis may serve as the impetus for new demonstrations in Iraq, specifically in the southern regions where some tribes warned the Iraqi government of a “war” that may erupt in the absence of appropriate measures to resolve the water crisis.

In Maysan province, water shortages are no less serious than those in Dhi Qar, Samawah and Wasit. The capital city of Maysan, Amarah, may suffer a major disaster as a result of drought, as waves of displacement will ensue, the marshes will dry out, the livestock will die and the agriculture industry will be doomed, officials say.

This is not the first time that armed conflicts have erupted between the tribes of southern Iraq over water. Three years ago, the dispute escalated between the tribes of the provinces of Muthanna and Diwaniyah for the same reason.

Parts of southern Iraq are going through a phase no less serious than the situation in the Sunni areas of Anbar, Salahuddin and Ninevah. Water is the dwindling lifeblood that could lead to long-term tribal fighting in those areas.

Despite its attempts, the Iraqi government is seemingly unable to control the tribal differences over water in the areas of southern Iraq, especially considering that there are tribes and families controlling the water flow and preventing it from reaching other farms and areas.

The Iraqi government may have to resort to a military option to end inter-clan disputes over water and force tribes to divide water quotas. Otherwise, some farms will be deprived of their quotas.

Details of Defeat-ISIS Strikes 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 Feb. 9-15, conducting 43 strikes consisting of 63 engagements, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.

Strikes in Syria

Yesterday in Syria, coalition military forces conducted four strikes consisting of five engagements against ISIS targets:

— Near Abu Kamal, three strikes engaged two ISIS tactical units and destroyed an ISIS supply route, a staging area and a weapons cache.

— Near Shadaddi, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed an ISIS headquarters.

On Feb. 14, coalition military forces conducted two strikes consisting of two engagements against ISIS targets:

— Near Abu Kamal, a strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit.

— Near Dayr Az Zawr, a strike engaged two ISIS tactical units and destroyed an ISIS outpost.

On Feb. 13, coalition military forces conducted four strikes consisting of six engagements against ISIS targets near Abu Kamal. The strikes suppressed two ISIS maneuver elements and destroyed a fighting position, a heavy machine gun and an artillery system.

On Feb. 12, coalition military forces conducted 10 strikes consisting of 13 engagements against ISIS targets:

— Near Abu Kamal, nine strikes engaged an ISIS tactical unit; suppressed an ISIS maneuver element; and destroyed two artillery systems, a tactical vehicle, a heavy machine gun, two ISIS supply routes, a fighting position and a command-and-control center.

— Near Shadaddi, a strike destroyed two ISIS fighting positions.

On Feb. 11, coalition military forces conducted seven strikes consisting of 11 engagements against ISIS targets near Abu Kamal. The strikes engaged two ISIS tactical units and destroyed two fighting positions, an ISIS-held building, a command-and-control center, three tactical vehicles and two ISIS-supply routes.

On Feb. 10, coalition military forces conducted nine strikes consisting of 11 engagements against ISIS targets:

— Near Abu Kamal, eight strikes engaged six ISIS tactical units and destroyed two command and control centers, a fighting position, an ISIS-held building, a weapons cache, an ISIS motorcycle and a mortar tube.

— Near Dayr Az Zawr, a strike engaged two tactical units of hostile forces and destroyed a tank.

On Feb. 9, coalition military forces conducted three strikes consisting of seven engagements against ISIS targets near Abu Kamal. The strikes engaged three ISIS tactical units and damaged an ISIS-held building.

Additional Strikes in Syria

On Feb. 8, coalition military forces conducted a strike consisting of one engagement near Raqqa, engaging an ISIS tactical unit.

On Jan. 31, coalition military forces conducted a strike consisting of one engagement near Shadaddi, destroying an ISIS rocket fighting position.

Strikes in Iraq

On Feb. 15, coalition military forces conducted a strike consisting of two engagements against ISIS targets near Rutbah. The strike destroyed an ISIS weapons cache.

On Feb. 14, coalition military forces conducted two strikes consisting of three engagements against ISIS targets near Beiji. The strikes engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed an ISIS facility.

There were no reported strikes in Iraq on Feb. 12-13.

On Feb. 11, coalition military forces conducted a strike consisting of one engagement against ISIS targets near Tal Afar. The strike engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed an ISIS tunnel.

There were no reported strikes in Iraq on Feb. 9-10.

Additional Strikes in Iraq

On Jan. 27, coalition military forces conducted a strike consisting of one engagement in support of an Iraqi raid on a high-value ISIS leader.

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)

Progress To Defeat ISIS Continues

Significant progress in the fight to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has resulted in a shift in focus to sustaining military gains in Iraq to ensure a lasting defeat of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria terrorists, The commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command told Pentagon reporters today.

An Air Force C-17 Globemaster III transport jet assigned to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron sits on the ramp at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Jan. 24, 2018. The C-17 is capable of rapid strategic delivery of troops and all types of cargo to bases throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt Gregory Brook

Speaking via teleconference from the Combined Air Operations Center at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Air Force Lt. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian said the Feb. 1 standup of a coalition aviation advisory and training team is an example of the transition.

The coalition team of airmen will help the Iraqis build a capable, affordable, professional and sustainable aviation enterprise, he explained. And while the standup of the team does not signal an increase in the U.S.-led coalition’s presence in Iraq, the CAAT will bridge the work toward standing up an air expeditionary wing that will take over that mission, he said.

Preventing ISIS Resurgence

The coalition’s train, advise and assist efforts to build a lasting Iraqi aviation enterprise will not be tied to a timeline, but instead will be conditions-based, proportional to the needs, and in coordination with partners in the Iraq government, Harrigian said.

“As we transition our focus in [Operation Inherent Resolve] to sustain our military gains, let me be clear that we will retain the necessary amount of air power to prevent a resurgence of ISIS,” he emphasized.

Harrigian said the progress to defeat ISIS has allowed the United States to realign some of its deployed combat air power and personnel to Afghanistan, including A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft, MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft and HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters.

“These aircraft will provide increased air support to the South Asia strategy, as well as ongoing counterterrorism efforts in Afghan-led operations,” the commander said. “This plus-up in air power is also producing tangible results as part of a deliberate air campaign that we kicked off in late November to decimate the Taliban’s primary revenue source — narcotics production.”

Goal: Choke Off Taliban

The goal is to choke off the Taliban’s ability to pay for its deadly attacks, such as those in Kabul recently, he noted.

Harrigian said the campaign to stop the Taliban’s resource flow will take time and that it will not align with the traditional fighting season in Afghanistan.

“Instead, [the campaign] will be relentless and persistent, as demonstrated by the 321 precision munitions we released this January against Taliban targets in the dead of winter, a time they typically rest and recuperate,” he said.

Such pressure will persist until the Taliban reconcile or die, Harrigian said. “We are already seeing positive reflections from our intelligence that the Taliban are not enjoying their typical winter break.”

(Source: US Dept of Defense)