WASHINGTON, Nov. 6, 2015 —
The coalition fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is making progress in Syria and Iraq, although challenges remain, a U.S. Central Command spokesman said today.
In a conference call with Pentagon reporters, Air Force Col. Patrick Ryder said multiple, simultaneous, coalition-enabled operations are putting pressure on ISIL on multiple fronts.
The coalition has been enabling joint Iraqi Security Forces and Sunni tribal operations in Anbar as the indigenous forces work to clear and hold the area of the Euphrates River Valley between Hit and Haditha, he said.
"These ongoing operations are having some success in limiting ISIL's freedom of movement along this key corridor," he said. "In fact, last week, these joint forces rescued Sunni hostages and liberated the town of Baghdadi."
He noted "incremental progress" in Ramadi. Meanwhile, near Sinjar, he said, the coalition continues to apply pressure on ISIL units along the Kurdish line.
In Syria, he said, the coalition continues to enable indigenous anti-ISIL ground forces, with Syrian Democratic Forces gaining ground and applying pressure to key ISIL areas.
Progress and Challenges
Ryder, who was speaking from Central Command's headquarters in Tampa, said the coalition's actions are limiting ISIL's ability to conduct effective offensive operations.
"If you remember last year ISIL was largely on the offense," he said. "Today in areas where we're supporting and enabling ground forces, they are largely on the defensive."
He welcomed the announcement from France that it is deploying the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier to the fight.
"The U.S. and specifically CENTCOM, as one partner in this fight, appreciates the tremendous support from France in bringing this significant capability to the fight," Ryder said.
There is still work to do, he said. "We have no misconceptions about the challenges that lie before us in defeating ISIL."
The United States is confident in its approach, Ryder said, but will continue to "adjust and refine as needed to ensure victory."
US Airstrikes 'Most Precise in History'
The United States has been clear that its airstrikes seek to achieve "precise and lethal effects in support of our mission to enable indigenous ground forces and defeat ISIL," Ryder said.
"Our strikes are the most precise in history," he said.
The pilots use only as many munitions as needed to achieve desired results, he said, to allow them to strike "exactly what they were targeting nearly every single time."
That is in contrast to Russian air power, he said, noting that Russia is reportedly using "dumb bombs" that have possibly caused high incidents of civilian casualties and other damage.
(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)