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For the U.S.-led military coalition waging war against ISIS, victory over the militants may finally be at hand — in one major stronghold, at least.
Eight months after Iraqi Security Forces backed by U.S. military advisers and a steady deluge of GPS-guided munitions initiated their assault on Mosul, government troops have nearly succeeded in eradicating the city of its militant infestation — and in seizing the 850-year-old Grand al-Nuri Mosque, the beating heart of the ISIS “caliphate” proclaimed almost exactly three years ago.
"The return of al-Nuri Mosque and al-Hadba minaret to the fold of the nation marks the end of the Daesh state of falsehood," Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi said in an official statement on June 29. Speaking on state TV, ISF spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool put things a bit more succinctly: "Their fictitious state has fallen.”
The announcement comes amid a series of symbolic defeats for ISIS, most notably the June 21 destruction of the Grand al-Nuri Mosque’s towering minaret, the architectural manifestation of the jihadis’ twisted caliphate, in the face of the ISF advance. After its collapse, ISIS attempted to blame coalition airstrikes for its destruction in the insurgency equivalent of a rage-quit.
And despite the premature declaration of victory by Iraqi officials, the siege of Mosul isn’t completely over just yet. Reuters reports that ISIS militants remain “bottled up” in several Old City neighborhoods and the al Jamhouri Hospital complex, where fighters have reportedly stockpiled food and weapons and festooned sealed-off streets and alley with vehicle-borne IEDS, booby-traps, and other deadly DIY arms ahead of the coalition’s grueling block-by-block advance. On June 27, ABC News reported that ISIS counterattacks had already managed to stymie the Iraqi forces’ push into those final pockets of infestation.
“Iraqi grit, determination, and support from the Coalition will lead to the imminent liberation of Mosul,” OIR spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon said in a statement on Twitter on June 29. “ISIS’ so-called caliphate is crumbling, from the outside and from within.”
The coalition is certainly more than up to the task. U.S. Central Command told Defense One that the more-than 29,000 munitions deployed across 1,300 strikes against ISIS fighters by coalition aircraft have destroyed “359 VBIEDs [car bombs], 781 buildings and facilities, 225 tunnels, 1,006 vehicles, 1,700 bunkers, 48 [anti-aircraft artillery], 685 artillery and mortar systems and 279 boats and barges” since ISF initiated its assault on Mosul in October 2016.
As ISIS continues to lose territory, their morale plummets and ISIS leaders have abandoned fighters to die,” Dillon wrote on Twitter. “ISIS oil revenue production has plummeted due to pressure from the Coalition. The Coalition and our partner forces, will NOT allow ISIS time, resources, to plan, plot, organize, or inspire attacks.”
The proclaimed victory comes amid a wave of good news for the three-year-old multinational campaign to eradicate ISIS. On June 29, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that Syrian Democratic Forces and Kurdish militias have “completely encircle[d]” ISIS fighters in the group’s de facto capital and remaining stronghold of Raqqa, denying the militants a chance to flee and regroup in line with the “annihilation campaign” outlined by Secretary of Defense James Mattis in May.
“The Syrian Arab Coalition have been moving east from Tabqa for some time, seizing terrain from Isis and liberating villages and towns as they move toward the Euphrates where the river begins to run south,” a CENTCOM spokesman told The Independent. “This will completely encircle the city and has been the SDF plan from the start."
What’s in store for Mosul after Iraqi Security Forces fully eradicates ISIS fighters from its ancient streets remains unclear. Public affairs officials with CENTCOM and OIR did not immediately respond to inquiries from Task & Purpose regarding both the Iraqi government’s declaration of victory and the coalition’s roadmap for completely liberating the city.
Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.
And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.
A special operations Marine is due in court on March 7 after being arrested last year for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, Task & Purpose has learned.
Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested and charged with assault inflicting serious injury on July 29, 2018, according to Jennifer Dandron, a spokeswoman for police in Wilmington, North Carolina. Evans is currently assigned as a Critical Skills Operator with the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, according to the Marine Corps Personnel Locator.
Following Trump's inauguration, some supporters of ground combat integration assumed he would quickly move to reinstate a ban on women in jobs like the infantry. When this did not happen, advocates breathed a collective sigh of relief, and hundreds of qualified women charted a course in history by entering the newly opened occupational fields.
So earlier this week when the Wall Street Journal published an editorial against women in ground combat by conservative political commentator Heather Mac Donald, the inclination of many ground combat integration supporters was to dismiss it outright. But given Trump's proclivity to make knee jerk policy decisions in response to falling approval ratings and the court's tradition of deference to the military when it comes to policies affecting good order and discipline, it would be unwise to assume the 2016 lifting of the ban on women in ground combat is a done deal.
R. Lee Ermey was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday.
Best known for his iconic role as the Marine Corps drill instructor Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in the war drama Full Metal Jacket, Ermey died April 15, 2018 at age 74 due to complications from pneumonia, Task & Purpose previously reported.
The U.S. Air Force has two of its most elite aircraft — the B-2 Spirit bomber and the F-22 Raptor — training together in the Pacific, reassuring America's allies and sending a warning to strategic competitors and adversaries about the sheer power the U.S. brings to the table.
These stunning photos show the powerful aircraft tearing across the Pacific, where the U.S. has increasingly found itself facing challenges from a rising China.