Iraqi security forces continue to pursue Islamic State of Iraq and Syria remnants in their country, destroying tunnels, weapons caches and explosives stockpiles, and arresting a number of suspected ISIS fighters, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve’s deputy commander for strategy and support told Pentagon reporters this morning.
In addition to clearing villages in the mountainous region of Kirkuk, the Iraqi federal police and the Kirkuk special forces continue to secure the Kirkuk-Hawija highway, destroying several safe houses and improvised explosive devices, while also detaining suspected terrorists, said British army Maj. Gen. Felix Gedney, speaking via teleconference from Baghdad.
“Additionally, following the successful joint operations between the federal police and Peshmerga forces last week, units participated in ongoing discussions to determine future opportunities for coordination,” Gedney said.
Across Iraq, the U.S.-led coalition continues to help build Iraqi security forces’ capability to enable their increasingly independent security operations, he said. The coalition also supports the civilian-led stabilization efforts that are critical for the lasting defeat of the enemy, the deputy commander noted.
“In Syria, the second phase of Operation Roundup is now complete,” Gedney said. “The Syrian Democratic Forces have declared the northern Jazira region cleared, although back-clearance operations to ensure Dashisha is cleared of remnant IEDs are ongoing.”
An internal security force also was established in Dashisha to ensure its long-term security, he added.
Also, planning is ongoing for operations to clear the last remaining pocket of ISIS-held territory east of the Euphrates River in Hajin in the vicinity of Abu Kamal, Gedney said.
“This final stage of Operation Roundup is likely to be a challenging fight, as it is a densely populated area,” he added.
The SDF have enabled some civilian convoys to leave the area, but there are indications that ISIS is stopping civilians from departing and holding them as human shields, he said.