US-led coalition says ISIS failing ‘miserably’ in Iraq

ISIS is not able to hold territory, Lt Gen Pat White, head of the command fighting the insurgents, says

Security forces detonate an explosive device placed by the Islamic State militants during a search operation in Taramiyah, 50 kilometers (31 miles) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, July 23, 2019. Security forces are sweeping villages and farmland north of Baghdad as part of an operation aimed at clearing remaining militants belonging to the Islamic State group from around the country's capital. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

The US-led anti-ISIS coalition said on Friday that the extremist group is failing 'miserably' in achieving its mission in Iraq.
ISIS sleeper cells have stepped up ambushes and attacks across northern Iraq in recent weeks, killing and wounding Iraqi and foreign security personnel.
But the coalition believes they are losing ground.
"ISIS is lacking in financing, fighters and support of populace areas," said Lieutenant General Pat White, head of the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, the command fighting ISIS.
 "ISIS was able to conduct complex military operations in 2016-2017. Their attacks consisted of vehicle-borne IEDs and rockets," he said.

But over the years "the degradation of their capabilities has witnessed a (different) type of attacks, which they are conducting now, of small arms rifles and small caliber mortars," Lt Gen White said during a telephone press conference.

The extremists are also failing to "pull fighters and sympathisers because the [coalition's] partner force has been successful in ensuring they remain defeated," he said.

The general said he was surprised that ISIS did not take advantage of the pause and suspension in aspects of the coalition's campaign due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Since mid-March the US-led coalition has withdrawn from several bases across Iraq in a planned drawdown due to fears over an outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Until last month, there were about 7,500 coalition troops in the country, including 5,000 US personnel.

Lt Gen White said he has had to send some troops home due to the impact of the coronavirus on their families.

"I reacted quite quickly after watching what was happening to the rest of the globe, to protect our forces and Iraqis," he said.

epa08332141 US soldiers attend the handover ceremony of the US-led coalition forces base inside the complex of the former presidential palace in Mosul, northern Iraq on 30 March 2020. According to local source, the US-led coalition forces withdrew from the fourth military bases in northern Iraq, amid heightened tensions with Iran-backed Iraqi shiite armed groups in Iraq.  EPA/AMMAR SALIH  EPA-EFE/AMMAR SALIH

A US-led mission to eliminate ISIS from the region was established in 2014 after the group overran large parts of northern and western Iraq and proclaimed a "caliphate".
Iraqi forces and their international partners managed to beat back ISIS and declare military victory in 2017, although the group has continued to launch attacks across the country.

"We haven’t seen anything since the last attack in Kirkuk area," Lt Gen White said.

The attack, carried out late April on Iraq's northern intelligence bureau, resulted in the injury of several Iraqi security forces. It was the first extremist suicide attack in months.

Iraqi military bases hosting foreign troops have come under several attacks since late March, but ISIS has only claimed responsibility for the attack in Kirkuk.

Three Katyusha-type rockets targeted a compound, used to house US troops and diplomats, near Baghdad's International Airport on Monday.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.