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OIR Spokesman Details Progress Degrading ISIL in Syria, Iraq

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3, 2016 — Coalition forces, along with partners on the ground in Iraq and Syria, are furthering gains in countering the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman said today.

The coalition is continuing to carry out strikes against the "breadth and depth of [ISIL's] formations in both Iraq and Syria," according to Army Col. Christopher Garver, who spoke to Pentagon reporters via teleconference from a military installation in the Middle East.

"The coalition continues to maintain momentum achieved due to the progress made over the last year by the Iraqi security forces and our partner forces in Syria," he said.

Since June 13, the coalition has conducted 10 strikes against foreign fighter facilities, including meeting, training and weapons storage facilities in both Iraq and Syria, Garver said.

"These strikes against foreign fighter facilitation networks degrade [ISIL's] ability to reconstitute its combat power with fresh foreign fighters," he said.

Garver said partnered forces on the ground in Iraq and Syria continue to demonstrate momentum against ISIL.

Progress in Manbij

The Syrian Arab Coalition and Syrian Democratic Forces have made progress in the Syrian city of Manbij in recent days, Garver said. There are gains toward the center of the city and on the eastern and southern flanks of Manbij, he said.

"We've also seen several hundred civilians fleeing Manbij make it safely out of the city and through the SAC lines," he said. "This remains a very tough and deliberate fight, as the SAC clears the city house by house and room by room, while working to avoid civilian casualties."

The coalition has conducted a total of 602 strikes in support of the Manbij operation, Garver said. The coalition believes more than half the city has been recovered at this time, he added.

Investigation of Civilian Casualties

The coalition has looked into three separate allegations of civilian casualties in reported strikes around Manbij, Garver said.

A strike that occurred July 19 is under formal investigation, as well as a strike that occurred July 28 northwest of Manbij, he said.

The coalition has determined reports of civilian casualties from an alleged strike on July 23 in a village east of Manbij has been deemed not credible enough to warrant further information, Garver said. The coalition did not conduct any strikes in that geographic area, he added.

Push to Isolate Mosul, Other Gains in Iraq

The push for the key city of Mosul continues, Garver said, with a tough fight expected for the city. The first step in the Iraqi plan, he pointed out, is to isolate the city and prevent movements in and out of the area.

ISIL is weakening inside Mosul, the largest ISIL-held city in Iraq, Garver said. The coalition is no longer seeing convoys of foreign fighters coming through Syria and then dividing up between Iraq and Syria, he said.

In northern Mosul, the coalition conducted an Aug. 1 strike against a former Saddam Hussein-era palace, he said. The strike was conducted by coalition aircraft from several contributing nations, according to Garver.

"The destruction of this facility will degrade [ISIL's] ability to support, house and train foreign fighters as they flow into northern Iraq," he said.

Elsewhere in Iraq, Iraqi security forces continue operations north of the Euphrates River to clear ISIL pockets in towns and neighborhoods north of the river, Garver said. Units from the 8th and 10th Iraqi army divisions are conducting those clearance operations, with support from the coalition, he said.

In the past 72 hours, the coalition has conducted six strikes along the Euphrates in support of Iraqi Security Forces, Garver said.

(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoDNews)

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