Iraqi Forces Reach Center of Tal Afar; Syrian Democratic Forces Push on in Raqqa

WASHINGTON --

Iraqi security forces reached the center of Tal Afar and liberated another 60 square kilometers in and around the former Islamic State of Iraq and Syria stronghold, a Defense Department official said here today.

Paratroopers, with Charlie Battery, 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, engage ISIS militants with precise and strategically placed artillery fire in support of Iraqi and Peshmerga fighters in Mosul. The fuel, munitions and life support essentials needed to sustain the fight against ISIS in the U.S. Army Central Command area of operations are provided by U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from the 316th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), acting as the 1st Sustainment Command (Theater) Operational Command Post, in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. The 1st TSC has provided approximately 22 million rounds of ammunition, nearly 3 million gallons of fuel, over 1,000 vehicles,  nearly 400 million gallons of water and more than 13,000 weapons. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Christopher Bigelow)
Soldiers with Charlie Battery, 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, engage ISIS militants with precise and strategically placed artillery fire in support of Iraqi and peshmerga fighters in Mosul, July 6, 2017. Army photo by Sgt. Christopher Bigelow
Paratroopers, with Charlie Battery, 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, engage ISIS militants with precise and strategically placed artillery fire in support of Iraqi and Peshmerga fighters in Mosul. The fuel, munitions and life support essentials needed to sustain the fight against ISIS in the U.S. Army Central Command area of operations are provided by U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from the 316th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), acting as the 1st Sustainment Command (Theater) Operational Command Post, in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. The 1st TSC has provided approximately 22 million rounds of ammunition, nearly 3 million gallons of fuel, over 1,000 vehicles,  nearly 400 million gallons of water and more than 13,000 weapons. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Christopher Bigelow) Sustaining Victory
Soldiers with Charlie Battery, 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, engage ISIS militants with precise and strategically placed artillery fire in support of Iraqi and peshmerga fighters in Mosul, July 6, 2017. Army photo by Sgt. Christopher Bigelow

The city is not completely liberated yet, Army Col. Robert Manning said during a press availability in the Pentagon.

Iraqi security forces have attacked the terror group in the city to the west of Mosul, with increasing confidence, DoD officials said. The strategy of training, advising and assisting Iraqi forces is paying off with increased combat capabilities.

Iraq Operations

Coalition forces have also contributed by providing intelligence information and precision air and ground fires, Manning said. “The Iraqi security forces have made remarkable progress in Tal Afar, but the fight against ISIS continues while the city center and key infrastructure come under ISF control,” he said.

Iraqi forces still face dangerous work, Manning said, as they conduct “back clearance” operations after their advance. ISF service members, he added, are conducting operations to identify ISIS fighters that remain in hiding and clearing the city of improvised explosive devices.

“Additionally, the ISF will conduct clearance operations throughout northern Nineveh province around Tal Afar to eliminate any remaining ISIS holdouts,” Manning said.

Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Weston A. Mohr
An F/A-18F Super Hornet with Strike Fighter Squadron 154 launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz while another Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler from Electronic Attack Squadron 142 prepare to launch in the Persian Gulf, July 29, 2017, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. Petty Officer 3rd Class Weston A. Mohr
Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Weston A. Mohr Nimitz Supports
An F/A-18F Super Hornet with Strike Fighter Squadron 154 launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz while another Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler from Electronic Attack Squadron 142 prepare to launch in the Persian Gulf, July 29, 2017, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. Petty Officer 3rd Class Weston A. Mohr

Manning added, “Coalition support to ISF remains as it has been throughout the campaign. We are working by, with and through our Iraqi partners to enable their defeat of ISIS.”

The defeat-ISIS actions are Iraqi led and the forces are being deliberate in clearing the region to lessen the chances of civilian casualties, he said.

Operations in Syria

In Raqqa -- the so-called capital of the ISIS caliphate -- Syrian Democratic Forces are making progress against tough opposition, Manning said. The SDF liberated approximately one kilometer in Raqqa bringing the total of the liberated area of the city to about 60 percent.

“On the western axis the SDF cleared more than two hundred meters of urban terrain along the main supply route [including] a portion of the Children’s Hospital and advanced to within three hundred meters of the National Hospital, where ISIS snipers are operating,” he said.

To the west, the SDF has met solid ISIS resistance, but forces continue back-clearing operations, he added.

This is Day 84 of operations in and around Raqqa, Manning said.

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)