Officials Call ISIL Determined
Officials Call ISIL
Determined, Capable Foe
By Jim Garamone, DoD News,
Defense Media Activity.
Washington D.C. – (DoD
News) – August 8, 2014 – The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is a
regional threat with aspirations to become a worldwide terrorist organization,
senior administration officials speaking with reporters on background said last
night. And ISIL a determined and very capable foe, they added.
In June, ISIL crossed the border from Syria into Iraq and
took Mosul, Iraq’s third-largest city. President Barack Obama said at the time
that the United States would establish a joint operation center in Irbil, the
capital of northern Iraq’s Kurdistan region, and in Baghdad. The United States
surged both manned and unmanned intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance
assets into the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.
The president also sent military assessment teams to examine
the situation and assess the capabilities of both the Iraqi security forces and
On Aug. 2, ISIL launched a multipronged attack across
hundreds of kilometers in northern Iraq. “It was swift; it was effective,” one
official said. “They … acted with tremendous military proficiency.”
U.S. officials coordinated through the joint operation
centers with Kurdish Peshmerga commanders and with the Iraqi air force and Iraqi
security forces in Baghdad. This developed into “a fairly historic level of
cooperation” between the Iraqi air force and the Peshmerga, the official said,
as Iraqi aircraft supported Peshmerga ground units with tactical airstrikes.
ISIL responded rapidly. “Given the rapidness in which it is
able to maneuver, given its ability to direct indirect fire attacks followed by
direct assaults with heavy weapons, it is a militarily proficient organization,”
the official said. “We are seeing that increasingly … in Syria and also
increasingly in Iraq. And it requires a level of sophistication in terms of a
Last night, ISIL launched another series of attacks,
endangering the approaches to Irbil. This threat prompted the president’s
decision to authorize U.S. airstrikes, the official said.
Another part of the equation is the danger to the Yezidi
people trapped on the slopes of Mount Sinjar. “The Yezidi population has been
targeted by ISIL,” the official said.
ISIL has targeted the Yezidi since the days of Abu Musab
al-Zarqawi -- the al-Qaida in Iraq leader who was killed in 2006. ISIL is an
outgrowth of that terror group. “It is their mission to ethnically cleanse areas
of anyone that it disagrees with, and that could mean Christians, it could mean
Yezidis, or anyone else,” the official said.
The brutal terror group also is targeting Sunni Muslims who
disagree with its philosophy -- essentially the majority of the population, the
ISIL drove thousands of people from their homes, and the
rugged mountain is their only refuge. The Iraqi air force did launch some
airdrops to provide some relief, but they were not enough. Yesterday, a U.S. Air
Force C-17 and two Air Force C-130s -- escorted by two Navy F-18 Super Hornets
-- dropped enough food and water for 8,000 people.
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