COVID or no COVID, the coalition is still keeping pressure on ISIS fighters across Syria and Iraq.
OIR said five to 10 ISIS fighters were killed in the strikes but those numbers could rise as Iraqi forces sweep and search the area post strike mission.
The coalition said in a news release that ISIS has used the intricate system of tunnels in the mountain range to smuggle weapons and move senior leaders as one of their “last remaining operating” areas in Iraq.
“The presence of Daesh in Iraq continues to diminish, thanks to the efforts and sacrifices of our Iraqi partner forces,” Maj Gen. Eric Hill, the commanding general, Special Operations Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve, said in the release.
“Strikes like these help our Iraqi partners maintain relentless pressure on the Daesh scourge, no matter where these terrorists hide,” he said in the release.
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After the strikes, the coalition said the Iraqi 14th Army Division conducted a sweep of the area and found ISIS documents and electronic devices. OIR said searches around the are continue, but much of the cave complexes are inaccessible.
“Removing Daesh fighters and mid-level operatives from the battlefield further degrades their ability to resurge and plot terrorist attacks against innocent civilians, our Iraqi partners, and Coalition troops,” OIR said in the release.
In March, two Marine Raiders — Gunnery Sgt. Diego D. Pongo, 34, of Simi Valley, California, and Capt. Moises A. Navas, 34, of Germantown, Maryland — were killed while advising Iraqi Security Forces on a mission against ISIS in the southern Makhmur Mountains in Iraq, about 60 km south of Erbil.
OIR said it took nearly six hours to recover the two Raiders.
ISIS fighters have lost control over major urban centers across Iraq and Syria but the group still holds sway over ungoverned territories sprawled across desert and mountainous regions.
About Shawn Snow
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.