Under assault by an increasingly capable government force in Iraq and a cohesive and deadly coalition-partner force in Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is getting desperate, Chief Pentagon Spokesperson Dana W. White said at a news conference on Thursday.
White said thousands of ISIS fighters are surrendering to Iraqi security forces and Syrian Democratic Forces.
“They are getting desperate,” she said. “Civilians are running towards the Iraqi security forces and Syrian Democratic Forces, because they know they are the good guys.”
Coalition forces have supported Iraqi forces as they liberated Hawija and continue to support the SDF as they enter the final phase of the battle for Raqqa – the capital of ISIS’ so-called caliphate.
“More than 6.4 million Iraqis and Syrians have been liberated from the grip of ISIS, a territory about the size of California,” White said.
Credit to Local Forces
The coalition will continue to strike ISIS wherever the group raises its head, she added, and coalition service members will track foreign fighters fleeing from the region who hope to foment terror in other parts of the globe.
But the credit belongs to the forces on the ground in Iraq and Syria, she said. “Local forces in Iraq and Syria have fought valiantly to liberate cities from ISIS,” she added. “It is because of their efforts and their tremendous sacrifices that I can say ISIS is on the run.”
These forces are light-years away from the troops that ISIS overran in 2014. Iraqi forces crumbled before the terror group and lost Mosul, the second-largest city in the country. ISIS made it a stronghold, but the reborn Iraqi security forces – with help from coalition fires – were decisively able to liberate the city.
Life is returning to normal in Mosul.
In Syria, the SDF is an army of Kurds and Arabs united against ISIS. That force was born, grew and matured over three years, and it stands now on the gateway of wresting the last large city stronghold from the terror group.
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)