By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Oct. 28, 2014 – Iraqi security forces – including the Kurdish peshmerga – have been making incremental progress against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists inside Iraq, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said today.
In the past day and a half, Iraqi forces have made gains in many parts of the country, Kirby said at a Pentagon news conference.
“In central Iraq, [Iraqi security forces] operations to expand Iraqi control of territory beyond the Bayji oil refinery are making progress,” the admiral added.
Iraqi forces also are advancing against ISIL in Amiriyah. With the assistance of coalition airstrikes, Kirby said, Iraqi forces have achieved success in countering ISIL fighters southwest of Baghdad as well.
Regaining ground from ISIL
In northern Iraq, a planned peshmerga offensive against ISIL forces has retaken Zumar, a town about 40 miles southwest of Mosul, and the surrounding area. “This is the fourth offensive operation in which peshmerga forces have been able to regain control of ground from ISIL, including Mosul Dam, Sardek Mountain and Rebiya Gate,” Kirby said.
Iraqi, Kurdish and coalition forces have targeted specific ISIL tactical locations to impede the terror group’s ability to shoot, maneuver and communicate near Mosul Dam, Zumar, Bayji, and Baghdad, the admiral said. “This has included the destruction of multiple fighting positions, at least eight ISIL vehicles, to include an ISIL tank, a staging area and a logistics base,” he said.
Major Iraqi offensive will take time
A major Iraqi offensive against ISIL will take some time, the press secretary acknowledged. Still, he said, “these are encouraging reports that highlight Iraq’s determination to take the fight to ISIL.” The ground and air attacks on ISIL have disrupted the group and forced them to change their tactics to avoid being targeted, he added.
In Syria, the situation in Kobani remains tenuous, Kirby said. Coalition airstrikes there over the last 24 hours destroyed several ISIL fighting positions and struck ISIL fighters.
“Despite these positive developments, it is important to point out that ISIL remains a very determined enemy,” the admiral said. “They continue to reinforce areas where they've been losing ground, such as in Kobani, Anbar province, and in the vicinity of Mosul Dam, and they continue to threaten innocent civilians wherever they are.”