WASHINGTON --- Syrian Democratic Forces are continuing the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in the middle Euphrates River valley, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Robert Manning said today.
The SDF continues to develop defensive positions in the Euphrates River valley, Manning said, and coalition aircraft launched attacks against ISIS positions near Abu Kamal on the border with Iraq on April 19-20.
Coalition forces continue to support the SDF effort against the extremist group, Manning said. “All forces in the region as part of that 70-plus-nation global coalition remain focused on ISIS,” he added.
The SDF is reinforcing positions in the valley and will not cede territory already taken from ISIS back to the terror group, Manning said.
Focus Remains on ISIS
“Our focus in the area remains ISIS,” he said. “We’re going to hold the ground we have, we will reinforce positions we have, and we’re going to continue to seek out and destroy ISIS wherever they are.”
Manning acknowledged that operations in the south against ISIS were not going at the pace the coalition would wish. “But we are getting back to a point where we are postured to defeat ISIS,” he said.
The colonel also addressed the ISIS in Afghanistan attack on a voter registration site in the national capital of Kabul that killed about 60 people and wounded more than 100 others. He called it a senseless attack that targeted unarmed civilians trying to exercise their right to vote.
The attack “exposes the savagery and inhumanity” of ISIS in Afghanistan, he said.
“We stand with the people and government of Afghanistan in their stand against terrorism,” the colonel said. “This attack on this polling station reaffirms our commitment to our Afghan partners and reaffirms on why we have to focus on rooting out violent extremism. When citizens can’t go and register and exercise their democratic right to vote, that’s a problem. They certainly deserve it, and that’s why we are going to stay there to make sure we can work with our Afghan partners to afford them that right.”
The colonel also announced Exercise African Lion, which runs through April 30 in Morocco and Tunisia. This year, the annual exercise has 900 U.S. military personnel in Morocco. The exercise is designed to foster interoperability and mutual understanding of each nations’ tactics, techniques and procedures, he said.