WASHINGTON --- The coalition and its partners in Syria and Iraq are continuing to make progress in defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve said today.
The fight continues both in the Middle Euphrates River Valley in Syria as well as in Iraq, Army Col. Sean Ryan told Pentagon reporters via teleconference from Baghdad.
A coalition strike May 26 in the Middle Euphrates River Valley killed ISIS leader Abu Khattab al-Iraqi, who oversaw revenue generation for the terrorist organization through the illicit sale of oil and gas, Ryan said.
“The death of al-Iraqi degrades ISIS's ability to finance operations in Syria and Iraq and further dismantles their long-term access to reliable funding," he said.
Three other ISIS fighters affiliated with the group’s oil and gas network were killed in that strike, he added.
Iraqi Forces Focused on ISIS Defeat
Despite a significant reduction in operations during Ramadan, the Iraqis continued to identify, locate and destroy ISIS remnants throughout the country, Ryan said.
The progress includes the seizure by Iraqi forces of a large cache of weapons and explosives and the capture of a number of suspected terrorists during a raid in a village in Ninevah, the colonel said.
Additionally, Iraqi forces continue to complete vital training programs, he said. He noted coalition-led training sites throughout Iraq saw more than 8,000 trainees during Ramadan, with the sites operating at more than 100 percent capacity.
“This clearly demonstrates their commitment to providing security and stability for the country," Ryan said.
The colonel highlighted the graduation of more than 400 trainees from the counterterrorism service basic training course near Baghdad, as well as 20 sharpshooters who are recent graduates of a SWAT-designated marksman course in Mosul.
Highlighting Progress in Syria
Today is the 50th day of Operation Roundup, the effort by Syrian Democratic Forces to accelerate the defeat of ISIS in the Middle Euphrates River Valley and along the Syrian-Iraqi border, Ryan said.
"The SDF are focused on clearing the town of Dashisha near the Iraqi border where they continue to gain ground against ISIS, this week clearing more than [77 square miles] of territory since the beginning of Phase 2 of Operation Roundup," he said.
Operation Roundup began May 1. The first phase ended with the clearance of Baghuz on May 15, Ryan said.
In addition, coalition-supported forces confiscated more than $1.4 million worth of illicit drugs intended to fund ISIS activities in the region, he said.
The drugs were seized May 31 by the coalition's Maghawir al-Thowra partners during operations within the deconfliction zone near Tanf, Syria, according to a coalition news release.
Further, an Iraqi strike in the vicinity of Hajin, Syria, June 7, destroyed an ISIS command facility used to coordinate terror activities in both Iraq and Syria, Ryan said.
"We cannot emphasize enough the contributions of the [Iraqi forces] in halting the movement of fighters from the battlefield and destroying targets in Syria," he said.