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Pressure Puts ISIL on Its Heels, Pentagon Spokesman Says

WASHINGTON, June 21, 2016 — Coalition and local forces in Iraq and Syria are making significant progress in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the Pentagon's press secretary told reporters today.

"The counter-ISIL coalition continues to pressure ISIL on multiple fronts in Iraq and Syria as local forces continue to put ISIL on its heels," Peter Cook said.

Progress in Fallujah

Iraqi security forces, led by the Iraqi Counterterrorism Service, are advancing in Fallujah at a rate of about 5 to 10 percent of the city per day, he said.

The forces have cleared about a third of the city, and are careful to safeguard the lives of civilians and limit property damage to the extent possible, Cook said.

The coalition continues to provide daily air support in the fight for the city, Cook said. There have been 85 strikes over the last four weeks, including four over the last 24 hours, he added. 

Progress Elsewhere in Iraq, 'Significant' Air Support

In northern Iraq, Iraqi forces are making progress as they push toward Qayyarah from multiple axes, Cook said. Iraqi forces moving north from Beiji advanced another six kilometers today, overcoming ISIL defenses along the way, he said.

"Meanwhile, Iraqi forces moving from the east also continue their push,” the press secretary said. “We are, again, providing significant coalition air support for these efforts as well."

'Tightening the Noose' in Syria

"In Syria, the Arab-led forces fighting to take back Manbij City are tightening the noose around this critical crossroad between Raqqa and the Turkish border," Cook said. Those forces have faced ISIL resistance inside the city and along the southern edge, he said, adding "they expect ISIL to hunker down for a tough fight in the city itself."

The Syrian Democratic Forces are clearing territory, which is an important development, Cook said. The SDF is gaining new insight into ISIL's operations in the area, including the flow of foreign fighters, he said.

"We believe that this will be helpful as we work to stem the foreign fighter flow and the risk that ISIL poses outside of Syria and Iraq," he said.

(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter @FerdinandoDoD)
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