As-Prepared Remarks by Col Ryan Dillon
Spokesperson for the Global Coalition
Thank you all for coming; great to see many of you again. I’ll provide an update on the Coalition’s efforts to defeat Daesh in Iraq and Syria.
In Syria, the fight continues against Daesh in the Middle Euphrates River Valley (MERV). Over the past two weeks, the Syrian Democratic Forces have completed clearance operations in Kharayij and Al Bahrah, north of Abu Kamal, as well as back-clearing more than 100 square kilometers between the Euphrates River and the Syria-Iraq border.
The SDF, however, have since had to limit offensive operations against Daesh due to some of their forces departing the MERV. This departure points out the potential costs of distraction from the defeat-Daesh fight. The Coalition will continue to support the SDF in the MERV with intelligence, advisors, and precision strikes and we will exploit enemy weaknesses wherever possible to contain and degrade our enemy.
The Coalition remains undeterred in accomplishing our goals, understanding the effort may take longer with the increased complexity of the situation in northern Syria.
While focused on defeating Daesh in the remaining territory they hold, we are also supporting the SDF in pursuing and targeting foreign terrorist fighters attempting to escape through neighboring countries.
Finally, we are cognizant that any truly enduring victory over Daesh requires the Global Coalition’s continued commitment to the security and stabilization of liberated areas. The need for security is being met through local partners such as the Manbij Military Council and Raqqa Internal Security Force.
In addition to preventing Daesh’s return, these security elements play an essential role in clearing the thousands of improvised explosive devices and booby traps left behind by Daesh. This is a dangerous but necessary task that musthappen before residents can safely return to their homes, and people can get back to work.
As Mr. Wolff stated, “The fight against ISIS will be different in 2018.” The CJTF has already adjusted from supporting our Iraqi Security Force partners in major combat operations to stability operations.
Iraq’s security continues to improve as ISF develop their own ability to find and eliminate remaining Daesh terrorists who have gone underground, in some cases, literally.
The ISF have continued security and clearance operations across the country discovering Daesh cave networks – some with Daesh fighters, some without – but all with weapons caches comprised of IEDs, suicide vests, and bomb-making material.
Also, Iraqi SWAT teams in multiple cities conducted independent counter-terrorism operations, detaining dozens of Daesh members this week.
At the request of Iraq, the Coalition will continue to work with the ISF, with a focus on enhancing our Iraqi partners’ capacities and capabilities. We will tailor our support based on Iraqi requirements, with a particular emphasis on holding and securing liberated areas.
As an example, the Coalition has provided training to Police and Border Guard Forces and has distributed nearly 200 containers equipped with necessary supplies to help establish police stations in communities and border guard posts along the border.
Despite crushing the so-called caliphate and exposing Daesh ideology for the lie it is, we mustn’t let up in our pursuit of these apocalyptic terrorists.
We have and we will keep the pressure on.
Since Jan. 1, 2018, the Coalition has removedfollowing ISIS leaders from the battlefield:
Abu Hassan al Jazzari, an ISIS commander, was killed by coalition air strike on Jan. 6, 2018, near Al Asharah, Syria. Jazzari was responsible for coordinating and directing movement of ISIS foreign fighters.
Abu Haytham al Jazairi, an ISIS foreign fighter facilitator, was killed by a precise coalition air strike near Kharaij, Syria, Jan. 6, 2018. Jazairi was connected to senior leaders in the ISIS
foreign fighter network to include Jazzari and responsible for facilitating movement of foreign fighters.
Abu Aysha al Dagestani, an ISIS military leader, was killed by coalition air strike near Al Kashmah, Syria. Dagestani directed ISIS operations in the MERV and facilitated foreign fighter movement out of the region. The removal of Dagestani will degrade ISIS’s command and control of foreign fighters and reduce their capabilities to conduct terror attacks in the region.
And, finally, Abu Abd al Rahman al Tamimi, an ISIS commander, was killed during a coalition strike Jan. 2, 2018, near Hajin, Syria. Tamimi planned and organized terror attacks against the SDF and Coalition forces.
Elimination of these ISIS leaders will disrupt Daesh’s command and control capabilities,deprive them of experienced leaders and degrade their ability to coordinate and execute acts of terrorism throughout the region.
To summarise…The Coalition IS making a difference, not only in Iraq and Syria, but beyond.
The contributions our Coalition partners are making every day, MATTERS.
I’m proud to be a part of this team and for what it stands for.
And…with that, we’ll now turn it over for questions.