Iraqi forces making “important progress” against IS – White House

WASHINGTON, May 3 (KUNA) — The performance of Iraqi security forces on the ground has improved, and the last several days have been characterized by “important progress” against so-called Islamic State (IS), White House press secretary Josh Earnest said on Tuesday.
In the last couple of days, Iraqi forces retook Bashir in Kirkuk province; another contingent of Iraqi forces succeeded in pushing IS out of Hit; and a separate contingent of Iraqi forces is continuing to apply pressure to IS in and around Haditha, Earnest said during a briefing.
If Iraqi forces are successful in finally pushing IS out of the vicinity of Haditha, they will have effectively cleared IS terrorists out of the Euphrates River Valley, which would be “an important strategic gain,” Earnest said.
This progress was possible because of the support Iraqi forces have received from the United States and other coalition partners in the form of training before the Iraqi forces took the battlefield, he said.
In some cases that took the form of US forces offering advice and assistance, and in each of these cases, Iraqi forces were backed by US and coalition military air power, Earnest said.
Meanwhile, initial reports found that a US service member who was killed in northern Iraq on Tuesday died after IS terrorists penetrated a checkpoint that was manned by Iraqi forces, Earnest said.
“Those terrorists, after breaking through the line, went on to attack a peshmerga position where this US service member was advising our partners on the ground,” Earnest said.
“US forces responded right away with air power to stop the attack, and our Iraqi partners are engaging the remnants of those forces.” The service member, whose name has not been released, was the third US service member killed in action since the 2014 beginning of Operation Inherent Resolve, which aims to eliminate IS. (end) rm.ibi

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