Liberation of Sirte Highlights Latest Counter-ISIL Efforts

A campaign by the Government of National Accord in Libya has liberated the city of Sirte, where the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant had sought to establish a stronghold in North Africa, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said today.

“This was a tough fight, and we congratulate the GNA-aligned forces for their courage and determination,” Cook told reporters at a Pentagon briefing, “and we are proud to have supported this campaign to eliminate ISIL’s hold of the only city it has controlled outside Iraq and Syria.”

U.S. Africa Command carried out this mission with particular skill, the press secretary said, limiting the risk of civilian casualties while conducting airstrikes in Sirte. The United States will continue to keep an eye on the remnants of ISIL in Libya and will remain prepared to assist the GNA as appropriate, he added.

ISIL Degradation Continues

In Iraq, Iraqi security forces continue to degrade ISIL forces in Mosul, where the Iraqi forces have cleared about 20 percent of the city, Cook said. During his recently concluded around-the-globe trip in which he met and thanked U.S. service members for their service, Defense Secretary Ash Carter was also able to meet with Iraqi forces and Kurdish peshmerga fighters conducting this campaign and thanked them personally for their courage and determination in a challenging fight in dense, urban terrain, he added.

The Syrian Democratic Forces over the weekend also accomplished a significant milestone in the drive to isolate and eventually liberate Raqqa, ISIL’s self-proclaimed capital in Syria, Cook said.

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