Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Raqqa, 13 June 2017

John Wayne Troxell Says ISIS ‘On the Run’

US Army’s Top Noncommissioned Officer Reports on War Against ISIS

The senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Monday, November 27, that he is impressed with the U.S. efforts in defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Army Sergeant Major Briefs Press After Raqqa Visit

Army Sgt. Maj. John Wayne Troxell, who was joined by the enlisted service chiefs at a Pentagon press briefing, described his visit several weeks ago to Raqqa, Syria.

“What I saw over there was our U.S. forces advising partner forces — and we had ISIS on the run,” the sergeant major said. He pointed out that ISIS was a much larger problem in 2014, when it controlled swaths of Iraq and started moving into Syria.

“But with the strategy we have now, where we are building partner capacity — we’re training, advising, assisting and in some cases accompanying our partner forces — we have ISIS on the run in the Middle East,” he said.

Troxell said ISIS is a “generational threat” borne out of an ideology. He said efforts by U.S. military personnel have played a “huge” role in the campaign to defeat ISIS and protect the United States.

ISIS Terror Attack in Egypt Shows Need for Continued US Involvement in Middle East

Pentagon spokesman US Army Col. Rob Manning said that the Nov. 24 attack on an Egyptian mosque in northern Sinai that killed at least 305 men, women and children is an example of why the United States must remain involved in the Middle East,

The United States must help partner nations build their own defense and police capacity to “ensure [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria], al-Qaida and like-minded groups cannot plan and carry out attacks,” he said.

5,500 US Troops Currently Deployed in Iraq and Syria

Manning gave an overview of the area to Pentagon reporters. He said there are roughly 500 U.S. forces in Syria and around 5,000 in Iraq. Defense Department officials are working on providing a better run-down of U.S. forces in the countries as security considerations permit, the colonel said.

Iraqi forces are working to improve security in areas they have retaken from ISIS control, Manning said. This includes going into areas to clear them of improvised explosive devices, clearing out weapons caches, disarm booby traps and rooting out ISIS hold-outs.

Syrian Democratic Forces Hold Syrian-Iraqi Border Against ISIS

“In Syria, in the last 24 hours, the [Syrian Democratic Forces] has reinforced positions near the Iraq-Syria border, repelling an ISIS reconnaissance element,” he said.

Coalition forces aided the SDF as it advanced along the southern bank of the Euphrates River. “Also coalition forces provided counter-IED training to Raqqa internal security force soldiers,” he said. The coalition also passed over communications gear to Raqqa force personnel.

Trump-Erdogan Talks

Over the weekend, US President Trump spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and discussed the U.S. supply of arms to the SDF. Turkish leaders are worried that arms supplied to the Kurdish portion of the SDF could end up in the hands of the [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] — a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.

“Consistent with that policy, we’re reviewing pending adjustments to the military support provided to our Kurdish partners [in the SDF], in as much as the military requirements of our defeat-ISIS and stabilization efforts will allow us to prevent ISIS from returning,” Manning said. “We remain very clear in that we are going to continue to target ISIS and remain committed to protecting our NATO ally Turkey.”

Weapons provided to the SDF are limited and mission specific, the colonel said.

Did Secret Deal Let ISIS Fighters Escape?

As Troxell stood before journalists giving his ISIS on the run statement, news has come out that the US may have been involved in a secret deal that let ISIS fighters escape Raqqa. Journalist Quentin Sommerville in “Raqqa’s Dirty Secret” says:

The BBC has uncovered details of a secret deal that let hundreds of IS fighters and their families escape from Raqqa, under the gaze of the US and British-led coalition and Kurdish-led forces who control the city.

An ISIS convoy did leave Raqqa before the city was taken by Coalition forces. Sommerville claims to have spoken to people who saw or were involved in the convoy. One driver on the convoy said that 4,000 people – ISIS fighters and their families – were driven out to safety.

ISIS may be “on the run,” but someone is also giving them a lift.

Source: US Department of Defense; BBC

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