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Pentagon Spokesman Urges Patience in Anti-ISIL Campaign

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2014 – It is imprudent to assess the U.S. strategy against terrorists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant after only three months, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said during a Pentagon news conference today.

The Pentagon press secretary said the strategy against ISIL is not just sound, but it’s working.

“The coalition continues to gain both momentum and strength,” Kirby said. “And we know we’re having a direct effect on ISIL inside Iraq and inside Syria.”

Airstrikes against the terrorist group only began Aug. 8, Kirby reminded the reporters. At that time, U.S. government officials said the effort against the extremists would take time, and degrading and destroying the group would be hard and complicated.

“Here we are, not three months into it and there are critics saying it is falling apart, it’s failing, the strategy is not sound,” Kirby said. “You cannot adequately gain a sense of the strength of a strategy over the course of three months. It’s just not possible. And it would be imprudent to do that.”

ISIL is losing sources of revenue through airstrikes on refineries and crude oil collection points inside Syria, the admiral said. Other airstrikes have taken out ISIL command and control facilities and finance centers.

The strikes have hit training camps and destroyed “countless vehicles and artillery pieces and other firing positions,” Kirby said.

“They’ve lost hundreds of fighters,” he added. “They certainly, we believe, have lost the ability to move about as freely as they once could. And when they do, they are typically hit.”

The group has had to change tactics, techniques and procedures to adjust to the coalition firepower and to the increased pressure from Iraqi and Kurdish fighters on the ground.

“That doesn’t mean they’re defeated,” the admiral acknowledged.

ISIL is still pushing for ground and for adherents, he said. There will be times when the terror group will gain ground, Kirby said, but time is against them.

Combat is a see-saw, the admiral said, “It goes back and forth. And every day is different. We believe that the strategy is sound. We also believe that it is showing effect. And … it’s really important for people to have a sense of patience here as we work it through.”


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