Task Force Lion continues its partnership with Iraqi forces against ISIS> US Department of Defense> Defense Department News
A US-led coalition task force named Task Force Lion, part of Operation Inherent Resolve, continues its efforts to support the Iraqi government in its fight against the remaining Islamic State forces of Iraq and Syria, the task force commander told reporters at the Pentagon today via satellite from Iraq.
The mission of Task Force Lion is to advise, assist and empower Iraqi security forces and build their capacity through training programs. The task force includes all four US services, as well as coalition partners from seven different nations.
âWe are the fifth rotation of this advisory and assistance working group, which began at the end of 2014, and we were fortunate during our tour to participate in the ISF onslaught to liberate the last of the urban centers of the Middle Euphrates Valley. who were under ISIS control here in western Anbar province, âsaid Marine Corps Col. Seth WB Folsom.
Building on the strengths of the coalition
The task force regularly engaged with key Iraqi unit leaders, assisting them in operational planning and intelligence gathering, he said. Task Force Lion also worked closely with Iraqi forces to take advantage of coalition intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and coalition fire support capabilities to target and destroy forces of the Islamic State for the past six months, he added.
From September to November, Folsom told reporters, Task Force Lion supported the Iraqi operation to retake the towns of Rayhanah, Anah, Qaim and Rawah. To accomplish the mission and support Iraqi forces as they progress over more than 3,700 square miles of battlespace, he said, the task force built three expeditionary fire bases and command centers positioned at the ‘Forward with Iraqi partners, and Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen have conducted nearly 100 tactical ground movements totaling over 11,000 miles.
In the three years since ISIS captured much of Iraq, terrorists had prepared a formidable set of defenses along the main road through the Euphrates Valley, Folsom said, including minefields made up of hundreds of improvised explosive devices.
During those three years, ISIS fighters subjugated Iraqi citizens throughout Anbar province and one of the task force’s biggest concerns as they helped the ISF to plan and execute. their operation was the risk of civilian casualties, he added.
âOur mandate was clear: Iraqi citizens had already suffered enough under the unjust ISIS regime, and therefore it was imperative that we avoid civilian casualties,â Folsom said.
Since Iraqi forces liberated western Anbar, life for Iraqis there has slowly started to return to a semblance of normalcy, the colonel said. Iraqi forces are working closely with civilian authorities to stabilize towns like Anah and Rawah, restore essential services and remove hundreds of unexploded ordnance left by ISIS to kill, maim and terrorize returning Iraqi citizens, did he declare.
Internally displaced people are returning to Anbar in increasing numbers, Folsom said, noting that at least 20,000 of the 30,000 citizens there have returned to Anbar.
“[The Iraqi security forces] are right to be proud of their accomplishments, âsaid the Colonel. âMy team and I are also proud to have worked with our Iraqi partners during this critical moment in their country’s history.
ISIS no longer controls any of the population centers in Iraq, Folsom said, but small ISIS elements are still seeking refuge in remote areas of deserts and mountains, and ISIS elements are trying. to resettle in populated areas.
The terrorist organization has one goal in Iraq, and that is to survive, Folsom told reporters. The Iraqi general he advises has not changed his posture over the past year, he added, and has continued to make it a priority to secure urban centers and major roads across the province. and to secure and strengthen the border with Syria and o track down small pockets of ISIS fighters in the desert. The Iraqi general likes to say, “ISIS started in the desert, and we are going to end them in the desert,” Folsom said.
“When I think of ISIS as it is now, of those little pockets of fighters who are struggling to communicate with each other and develop a coherent strategy, I can confidently say their days are numbered,” he said. declared Folsom. Iraqi national elections are approaching, he noted, and he said he is advising his Iraqi partners as they develop their plans to safeguard this important milestone.
The task force training effort to build and develop Iraqi border guard forces remains constant, Folsom said, as does its efforts to continue professional development of Iraqi security forces at all levels.
âIraq’s future is brighter than it was three years ago, and the men and women of Task Force Lion remain committed to our partnership with the [Iraqi forces] to ensure that the Iraqi people never have to face the horrors of ISIS again, âFolsom said.