Iraqi counter-terrorism convoy, Baghdad to Mosul road, 23 Feb 2017, by US Army Staff Sgt Alex Manne

Iraqi Security Forces Launch Huwayjah Offensive

New Attack on Remaining ISIS Pockets in Iraq

Iraqi security forces initiated major combat operations in Huwayjah during the early morning hours, September 21, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials said.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria seized control of the city in early 2014, officials said in a statement announcing the new offensive. Huwayjah became isolated from the rest of ISIS’ territory in July 2016 during the battle of Mosul, when Shirqat was captured by Iraqi troops.

Liberation of Huwayjah Espected

“The liberation of Huwayjah will be yet another major achievement in the Iraqi forces’ relentless drive to liberate civilians trapped by ISIS,” said Maj. Gen. Felix Gedney of the British Army, the task force’s deputy commander for strategy and support.

Maj. Gen. Gedney moved from the UK Army’s Headquarters to take up the post as the Deputy Commander for Strategy and Support for III (US) Corps and Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve. He formerly served as Brigadier Army Staff and was the UK Chief of Defence Staff’s Liaison Officer with the US Joint Staff in Washington.

Following rapid successes against ISIS in and around Tal Afar, Akashat, Haditha and Rayhanna, Iraqi forces began their offensive into the Middle Euphrates River Valley, which stands as one of two remaining pockets of ISIS fighters remaining in Iraq, along with western Anbar province, officials said.

ISIS “An Organization in Decline”

“The rapid, recent success of the Iraqi security forces points to [their] momentum in the campaign to destroy ISIS in Iraq,” said U.S. Army Col. Ryan Dillon, the coalition’s spokesman. “ISIS has never been capable of providing effective governance or services that benefited the people under its rule. Its defeat in Iraq further demonstrates ISIS is an organization in decline, whose leaders are no longer capable of effective military command and control.”

Recent ISIS attacks on civilian targets signal a shift in tactics from an organization unable to contend on the battlefield, Dillon said. “The coalition will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the [Iraqi security forces] in their fight against a brutal and backward organization and its ideology,” he added.

Source: US Department of Defense

Image: Iraqi Counter-Terrorism convoy (US Army).

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