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Gains Made Against ISIL in Syria, Iraq, Coalition Spokesman Says

By Lisa Ferdinando DoD News, Defense Media Activity

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WASHINGTON, Dec. 10, 2015 — Forces fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant continue to make progress, including with the killing of three ISIL leaders, the Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman said today.

"Across Iraq and Syria, we believe that we're continuing to achieve some good effects," Army Col. Steve Warren told Pentagon reporters.

Warren, who spoke via video conference from Baghdad, said coalition strikes killed three ISIL leaders in late November. Those killed, he said, were Abu Salah, ISIL's financial minister; Abu Maryam, an ISIL enforcer and senior leader of ISIL's extortion network; and Abu Rahman al-Tunisi, who coordinated the transfer of information, people and weapons.

"Their removal will degrade ISIL's ability to command and control troops, and it disrupts their ability to finance their efforts," Warren said.

The strikes, Warren said, are an example of how the coalition is able to decimate ISIL's networks.

Warren said the commander of U.S. Central Command, Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, visited Iraq last week and said indigenous forces in Syria and Iraq are on the offensive or holding ground that has been retaken from the terrorists.

"We are gaining momentum against ISIL, and I remain confident in our approach and confident that, while it will take time, we will defeat them," Austin said during the visit, Warren told reporters.

The fight against ISIL, Warren said, relates to ISIL's expansion in other areas such as North Africa and the Sinai. ISIL will take the path of least resistance, he added.

"As we continue to degrade their capability here in their stronghold of Iraq and Syria, we have to expect and plan for them to try to attempt to gain footholds elsewhere," the colonel said.

Remembering the Fallen

Iraqi security forces pressed south from the Palestine Bridge and seized and liberated the Anbar operations center in Ramadi two days ago, Warren noted.

The Iraqi forces have seized and secured Tamim, the largest neighborhood in Ramadi. No more enemy fighters are believed to be inside that neighborhood, Warren said.

It is significant to mention, Warren said, the Ramadi successes come nine years almost to the day when three U.S. service members -- Army Capt. Travis Patriquin, Marine Corps Maj. Megan McClung and Army Spc. Vincent Pomante -- were killed by a roadside bomb, Dec. 6, 2006.

Patriquin was the "heart and soul" behind the Anbar Awakening in many ways, Warren said, adding that he mentioned the fallen because the Anbar operations center the Iraqis "fought so hard and so long to liberate" was named in honor of Patriquin.  

Syrian Gains

The Syrian democratic forces continue to liberate territory held by ISIL in northern Syria, Warren said.

On Dec. 7, the Syrian democratic forces liberated the villages of Kan and Suwy, located south of Hawl, he said, noting that those villages give them a stronger foothold as they move toward Shadaddi.

During a five-week campaign, the Syrian democratic forces have liberated nearly 1,000 square kilometers and coordinated with coalition forces for 142 strikes, he said. Those strikes, Warren added, have killed an estimated 500 enemy fighters and have destroyed 143 ISIL fighting positions, 43 vehicles and one checkpoint.

(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)