On Sunday coalition backed Iraqi Security Forces successfully captured Ramadi, Iraq and drove away ISIS militants from this strategic city in central Iraq on the Euphrates River that was seized by ISIS in June and is 90 percent Sunni.
A day later, Iraqi security forces along with coalition trained Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) units raised the Iraqi flag over the provincial government center in the downtown area.
Coalition forces have waged more than 630 airstrikes on ISIS targets since July with 150 occurring in December alone.
Yesterday U.S. Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman operating in Iraq, held a press conference via telephone conference and acknowledged the Iraqi security forces have achieved considerable success in Ramadi.
Col. Warren said that they trained several of the Iraqi army brigades, CTS units, and police forces who fought there, cleared away IED’s, provided a floating bridge to help get combat power into downtown Ramadi, and partnered with the Iraqis to give assistance at multiple Iraqi army headquarters.
Col. Warren confirmed that late Saturday evening in neighboring Syria, groups of Syrian defense forces successfully drove away ISIS militants and captured the Tishrin Dam, located 90 kilometres (56 mi) east of Aleppo on the Euphrates River.
Syrian defense forces also liberated 10 villages and killed over 100 ISIS militants.
Striking at the Head Of the Snake
Col. Warren said that in addition to the tactical military operations, “we are also striking at the head of this snake by hunting down and killing ISIL leaders.”
Through coalition airstrikes, 10 ISIS leadership figures were killed, including several external attack planners, some of whom are associated with the Paris attacks, such as Abdel Kader Hakim, and others with plans to attack the West.
When questioned about how the leadership strikes impact the ability of ISIS to operate, Col. Warren pointed out that it disrupts the flow of their control operations to conduct further activities.
“They affect them in several ways. First and foremost, I think any organization that sees its middle and upper management degraded in this way is going to lose some of their synergy, right?” Warren said.
“It’s difficult to command and control an organization without the command and control personnel. That leader needs to be able to facilitate the activities, your ability to conduct activities goes down” Warren added.
Responding to another question about the role of Sunni tribal fighters in the recent seizure of Ramadi, Col. Warren said they were not a significant player in the drive to seize Ramadi but admitted they “will be significant players in the stabilization and the holding of Ramadi.”
Much of war-torn Ramadi still needs to be rebuilt after Ramadi is stabilized in the weeks ahead.
“Now, you know, we do know that both the United States of America and the coalition then have pledged millions of dollars for the reconstruction, the rebuilding and the stabilization of Ramadi. We expect soon we will begin to see, once the security situation is stabilized enough, the international community come in with humanitarian relief efforts” Col. Warren said.
Last month, Kurdish Peshmerga and coalition air forces were successful in driving ISIS militants away from Sinjar in northern Iraq.
A year ago, ISIS militants targeted Yazidis, an ethnic group linked to ancient Zoroastrianism.
ISIS militants abducted Yazidi women, forced them into sexual slavery, and killed an estimated 3,000-5,000 Yazidis during a “forced conversion campaign” that led to thousands of Yazidis fleeing to the Sinjar Mountains in August 2014 that started U.S. airstrikes against ISIS militants.
Yesterday Democrat candidate Hilary Clinton said during a town hall meeting in New Hampshire that Islamic State violence against Yazidis, Christians, and other religious minorities was genocide.
“I am now sure we have enough evidence, what is happening is genocide deliberately aimed at destroying lives and wiping out the existence of Christians and other religious minorities” Clinton said.
The Office Of The United Nations High Commissioner For Human Rights considers the persecution of Yazidis as genocide in a March 2015 report.