Coalition forces are focused on eliminating the remaining Islamic State fighters in Syria, a top official at Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve said today.
“The coalition will relentlessly pursue ISIS wherever they are until they are defeated,” Maj. Gen. Felix Gedney of the British Army, the task force’s deputy commander for strategy and support, told Pentagon reporters in a video briefing from Baghdad.
The Syrian Democratic Forces announced earlier in the month that their renewed push to defeat ISIS, he said. The coalition has since conducted 40 strikes against eight Islamic State held buildings, six logistical assets, two explosive factories and two weapons caches, he added.
“This increased defensive action to destroy ISIS marks the beginning of Operation Roundup,” he said. That is the coalition name for the operations “to destroy ISIS in the final areas where they hold ground east of the Euphrates River and liberate the last of their fake caliphate.”
“As Operation Roundup progresses, the coalition will continue to support the Syrian Democratic Forces, compacting what’s left of ISIS in Syria as we deal the final blow,” he said.
The Syrian Democratic Forces are securing the southeast portion of the Syria-Iraq border as part of the first phase of Operation Roundup, Gedney said. The SDF, he explained, are eliminating ISIS resistance and establishing defensive positions in coordination with the Iraqi security forces, which are operating in parallel on the Iraqi side of the border. Meanwhile, coalition forces are supporting the efforts through air, artillery and mortar strikes against targets, he said. The general noted that the Iraqi air force struck an Islamic State headquarters target May 6 near the Syrian border town of Dashisha, further degrading IS operational capability throughout eastern Syria and into western Iraq.
“Ground operations by the Syrian Democratic Forces, coupled with intelligence, surveillance and fire support provided by the coalition, are having a devastating effect on ISIS as we strike ISIS targets and Syrian Democratic Forces continue to liberate lands held by ISIS terrorists,” the general told reporters.