By Lisa Ferdinando
Backed by coalition strikes, Syrian partner forces are close to liberating the Syrian city of Tabqa, the spokesman for the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve said Wednesday.
The Syrian Democratic Forces and Syrian Arab Coalition are “dominating” the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in Tabqa, Air Force Col. John Dorrian told Pentagon reporters via videoconference from Baghdad.
“Many of you have probably observed the video footage of ISIS’s flag being lowered, which is a signal to all the people in the city that ISIS’s brutal control of the city is coming to an end,” he said.
The coalition is supporting the liberation efforts with precision strikes, including most recently engaging ISIS fighters and their positions that would have otherwise threatened the Syrian partners as they free long-held neighborhoods, Dorrian explained.
“Coalition strikes have also taken out ISIS command-and-control nodes and the result has been to cause disarray, reducing the enemy’s ability to maintain and organize defense of Tabqa city,” he said.
Partnered Syrian forces have retaken Tabqa hospital, which the enemy was using as a staging area for foreign fighters and a storage area for weapons and resources, according to Dorrian.
Raqqa Shaping Operations Intensify Pressure on ISIS
Syrian Democratic Forces continue clearing operations in the countryside north of Raqqa, liberating more than 27 square miles this week, Dorrian said.
“As the SDF progresses further in clearing these areas and completes the liberation of Tabqa, the coalition continues shaping operations to isolate Raqqa and increase the ever-mounting pressure on ISIS,” he said.
The coalition has disrupted or destroyed ISIS supply routes in and around the city, and has also destroyed more than 40 barges ISIS has used to move fighters and supplies along the Euphrates River, he said.
Iraqi Forces Battle for West Mosul
“What ISIS is finding is that this force, the Iraqi security forces, are more than capable of stopping attempts for them to escape as the ISF have built up the perimeter in a manner that makes a breakout very difficult,” according to the spokesman.
Three coalition strikes this week in Iraq damaged or destroyed vehicle-borne improvised explosive device factories, and several vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, he said.
Coalition air and artillery strikes have also been used to target ISIS snipers and rocket and mortar teams, the colonel added.