Washington (AFP) – The US-led coalition campaign against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria has successfully completed its first “phase” of operations, a US military spokesman said Wednesday.
The coalition is working through three main steps as it wages its 20-month-old fight against the IS group, Baghdad-based spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said.
“Our enemy has been weakened and we now are working to fracture him. Phase one of the military campaign is complete,” Warren told Pentagon reporters, noting that this initial step was to “degrade” the IS group by stopping it from making additional territorial gains.
“We are now in phase two, which is to dismantle this enemy,” he added.
Warren said the final phase of the campaign is to ensure the IS group is dealt a lasting defeat, primarily by enabling local forces to prevent a resurgence of jihadist influence.
On Tuesday, Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said IS’s ranks have been pared back in Iraq and Syria to their lowest level since Washington began monitoring the group.
Though the IS group maintains a firm grip on vast areas of the two countries, the jihadists have suffered some serious setbacks including the loss of Ramadi in Iraq.
“While ISIL can still put together some complex attacks, they have not been able to take hold of any key terrain for almost a year now,” Warren said, using an IS acronym.
“We’ve struck leaders, supply lines, fighters, industrial base and funding sources in both Iraq and Syria.”