Pentagon says first step in anti-ISIL battle in Iraq, Syria ‘complete’
WASHINGTON – Agence France-Presse
DHA photoThe U.S.-led coalition campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq and Syria has successfully completed its first “phase” of operations, Baghdad-based U.S. military spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said April 13.
The coalition is working through three main steps as it wages its 20-month-old fight against ISIL, Warren said.
“Our enemy has been weakened and we now are working to fracture him. Phase one of the military campaign is complete,” Warren told Pentagon reporters, noting that this initial step was to “degrade” ISIL by stopping it from making additional territorial gains.
“We are now in phase two, which is to dismantle this enemy,” he added.
Warren said the final phase of the campaign is to ensure ISIL is dealt a lasting defeat, primarily by enabling local forces to prevent a resurgence of jihadist influence.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama said ISIL was on the defensive and “their cause is lost.”
Obama paid a rare visit to CIA headquarters in Virginia to discuss progress of Operation Inherent Resolve, the 20-month-old U.S.-led campaign against ISIL in Iraq and Syria.
“ISIL is on the defensive, and we are on the offensive,” Obama said.
“We have momentum, and we intend to keep that momentum.”
Obama pointed to recent U.S. air strikes that killed three senior ISIL leaders and a report this week showing the group’s ranks are at their lowest level since 2014.
“In the days and weeks ahead we intend to take out more [leaders]. Every day, ISIL leaders wake up and understand it could be their last,” Obama said.
“Their ranks of fighters are estimated to be at the lowest levels in two years and more and more are realizing that their cause is lost,” he added.