Iraqi army kill 50 IS members, Syrian opposition kill 636 enemy fighters – coalition

WASHINGTON, March 16 (KUNA) — Iraqi security forces have killed 50 so-called Islamic State (IS) fighters and detained another 149, while opposition forces in Syria have killed 636 enemy fighters, a coalition officer said on Wednesday.
The Iraqi security forces were backed by international coalition air support as they also retook a police station in Hamdia town, north of Ramadi, US Army Col Steven Warren said in a Pentagon broadcast briefing.
The Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman said that the operation also led to the evacuation of around 35,000 civilians, as 149 IS fighters, “attempting to blend in among the fleeing civilians,” were detained.
The IS fighters are in the custody of Iraqi security forces and will be prosecuted by the Iraqi government, he added.
Meanwhile, amid Operation Desert Lynx, Iraqi security forces continued to drop leaflets over a number of villages along the Euphrates River Valley with safety instructions and a warning to ISIL that, “CTS (Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service) lions are close.” The aim of the leaflet drop is to reduce civilian casualties and weaken IS morale, he mentioned.
Warren went on to mention that the US-led coalition has so far trained more than 20,000 Iraqi security personnel, with some 459 Iraqi special operations trainees having graduated from a commando course in Baghdad.
The eight-week-long commando course, taught by Iraqis with advisers from the coalition serving as mentors, “included training in marksmanship, urban combat, close quarters battle and battlefield medicine,” he indicated.
Meanwhile in northeastern Syria, Shaddadi in particular, Syrian Democratic Forces, supported by over 150 coalition airstrikes, have killed 636 enemy fighters, freed 32 Yazidi women who had been held as slaves by IS, and gained 3,217 sq km.
On the northwestern Mara Line, opposition forces have seized several thousand villages and repelled IS attacks in other villages, he added. (end) sd.bs