Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Competent, Willing Partnerships Result in Gains Against ISIL

By Claudette Roulo
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2015 – The success of Kurdish forces battling Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani is an example of what can be done with a reliable, willing and capable partner, the Pentagon press secretary said today.

A number of factors led up to yesterday’s announcement by U.S. Central Command that anti-ISIL forces now control about 90 percent of the embattled town, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters.

“I think the airstrikes helped a lot. It helped when we had … a reliable partner on the ground in there who could help us fine-tune those strikes. That was certainly an important moment,” the press secretary said.

“It was an important moment when the Turkish government allowed resupply through Turkey to Kurdish forces inside -- resupply and actually additional resources in terms of manpower into Kobani. I think that was an important moment,” he said.

That said, the fight to retake Kobani isn’t over, the admiral said, and terrorist forces are still intent on taking the town.

The battle for Kobani shouldn’t be considered a template for future fights against ISIL, Kirby said. When Iraqi security forces move to retake Mosul, it may or may not result in a protracted battle, he said.

“I don't think there's any underestimation of how hard this is going to be. How fast it's going to go is going to depend on a whole range of factors. And oh, by the way, the enemy gets a vote here,” the admiral said.

“Every situation is going to be different, and Kobani's not Mosul, by any stretch, in terms of the scale, the size and the complexity of what that mission's going to be like,” the press secretary said.

Mosul is key terrain, Kirby noted, adding, “Eventually there’s going to have to be a fight for Mosul.”

“Obviously we're working closely with the Iraqi security forces on helping them better understand the challenges with respect to any kind of campaign in Mosul and making sure this is part of the train-advise-and-assist mission, to making sure that they are as battlefield competent as possible,” he said.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Coalition Continues Airstrikes Against ISIL in Syria, Iraq

From a Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve News Release

SOUTHWEST ASIA, Jan. 26, 2015 – U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.

Officials reported details of the latest strikes, which took place between 8 a.m. yesterday and 8 a.m. today, local time, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

Airstrikes in Syria

Attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 21 airstrikes in Syria:

-- Near Qaim, an airstrike destroyed three ISIL armored vehicles.

-- Near Raqqah, two airstrikes destroyed six ISIL armored vehicles and an ISIL vehicle.

-- Near Dayr az Zawr, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL armored vehicle.

-- Near Kobani, 17 airstrikes struck 14 ISIL tactical units, a large ISIL unit and two ISIL fighting positions and destroyed six ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL staging area.

Airstrikes in Iraq

Attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 13 airstrikes in Iraq:

-- Near Fallujah, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL excavator.

-- Near Haditha, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

-- Near Mosul, four airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL bunkers, two ISIL vehicles and an ISIL armored vehicle.

-- Near Tal Afar, seven airstrikes struck a large ISIL unit and destroyed three ISIL mortar firing positions, three ISIL vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, eight ISIL armored vehicles, an ISIL checkpoint, 15 ISIL vehicles and three ISIL fighting positions.

Part of Operation Inherent Resolve

The strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the ISIL terrorist group and the threat they pose to Iraq, Syria, the region, and the wider international community. The destruction of ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group's ability to project terror and conduct operations, officials said.

Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Iraq include the United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Syria include the United States, Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Alleged Terrorist, Charged with Murder of Five American Soldiers, Extradited to United States

Defendant Allegedly Aided Suicide Bomb Attack on U.S. Base in Iraq

U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch for the Eastern District of New York, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin, Assistant Director-in-Charge George Venizelos of the FBI’s New York Field Office and Commissioner William J. Bratton of the New York City Police Department announced that tomorrow, Jan. 24, 2015, Faruq Khalil Muhammed ‘Isa, aka “Faruq Khalil Muhammad ‘Isa,” “Sayfildin Tahir Sharif,” and “Tahir Sharif Sayfildin,” will have his initial appearance at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, on charges of conspiring to kill Americans abroad; and providing material support to a terrorist conspiracy to kill Americans abroad.  ‘Isa was extradited to the United States from Canada.

According to court documents, the defendant is charged in connection with his support for a multinational terrorist network that conducted multiple suicide bombings in Iraq.  According to the complaint, filed on Jan. 14, 2011, in the Eastern District of New York, the defendant assisted in orchestrating an attack on the United States Military’s Forward Operating Base Marez (FOB Marez) in Mosul, Iraq, on April 10, 2009.  A truck laden with explosives drove to the gate of FOB Marez and exchanged fire with Iraqi police officers guarding the base and then with an American convoy exiting the base.  The truck detonated alongside the last vehicle in the U.S. convoy, leaving a 60-foot crater in the ground.  Five American soldiers were killed in the blast.  They are:  Staff Sergeant Gary L. Woods, 24, of Lebanon Junction, Kentucky; Sergeant First Class Bryan E. Hall, 32, of Elk Grove, California; Sergeant Edward W. Forrest Jr., 25, of St. Louis, Missouri; Corporal Jason G. Pautsch, 20, of Davenport, Iowa; and Army Private First Class Bryce E. Gaultier, 22, from Cyprus, California.

“Today’s extradition demonstrates to those who orchestrate violence against our citizens and our soldiers that there is no corner of the globe from which they can hide from the long reach of the law,” said U.S. Attorney Lynch.  “We will continue to use every available means to bring to justice those who are responsible for the deaths of American servicemen and women who paid the ultimate price in their defense of this nation.”

“Faruq Khalil Muhammed ‘Isa is alleged to have helped orchestrate an attack that killed five U.S.  soldiers at the Forward Operating Base Marez in Mosul, Iraq, in 2009,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin.  “The families of these five Americans and all who have lost loved-ones to acts of terrorism should know that we will never cease seeking to hold terrorists accountable for their acts.  I want to thank the many agents, analysts and prosecutors who are responsible for this matter.”

“As alleged, Faruq Khalil Muhammad ‘Isa was involved in the most callous act: a suicide bombing murdering U.S. soldiers in Iraq,” said Assistant Director in Charge Venizelos.  “Our memory is long, and our reach is longer.  Today we hope to bring some measure of justice to the families of those five servicemen who sacrificed their lives in defense of this nation.”

“I want to commend the United States Attorney Loretta Lynch and her team for working closely with the NYPD and the FBI to extradite this individual who is allegedly responsible for the death of soldiers sworn to protect and serve,” said Commissioner Bratton.  “We hope today’s extradition will bring some closure to the families.”

The charges in the complaint are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zainab Ahmad, Alexander Solomon and Peter Baldwin, with assistance provided by the Justice Department’s Counterterrorism Section and Office of International Affairs.  The department extends its grateful appreciation to the Canadian government for its assistance and cooperation in the extradition.