By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (Dec. 11, 2018) -- Army Col. Jonathan C. Byrom serves as commander of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment and deputy director of Joint Operations Command Iraq. Byrom provided an update to reporters at the Pentagon on continued efforts to find and eliminate any remaining pockets of the largely defeated ISIS.
Here are five things to know about current operations in Iraq, according to Byrom:
1) While the government of Iraq has declared the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria to have been defeated, pockets of ISIS fighters remain.
Iraqi security forces work daily to ferret out those enemies and their caches of weapons to prevent the terrorist group from ever again regaining any kind of power or influence in Iraq -- something Byrom said ISIS is certainly interested in achieving. In October, for instance, Iraqi forces initiated Operation Last Warning to target pockets of ISIS forces in the rough desert terrain of Iraq's Anbar province. Also, Iraq Federal Police are conducting large-scale clearance operations in Hawijah.
2) The efforts to permanently eradicate ISIS forces are being planned and led by Iraqi security forces, but the United States military assists in that effort by providing intelligence support, joint fires, aerial surveillance and training opportunities.
3) While the fight against ISIS has all but eliminated the group in Iraq, the weapons of that fight, such as improvised explosive devices, remain in many places and continue to pose a threat to honest, hardworking Iraqis.
In response to that threat, Iraqi forces in September planned Operation Heroes Resolve, a massive clearance operation across Iraq that resulted in the discovery and destruction of hundreds of IEDs.
4) With the threat of ISIS largely eliminated in Iraq, civilians there are returning to a sense of normalcy.
In Mosul, Byrom noted, students once denied the ability to seek an education are returning to recently opened schools. Businesses are also reopening, and 4 million displaced Iraqis have returned to their homes, though some 2 million remain in camps across the country.
5) The effort to suppress ISIS in Syria is supported by an ever-strengthening international coalition of 74 nations and five international organizations.
U.S. and partner artillery, including M777s, near the Iraq-Syria border at Iraqi Firebase Saham support partners in Syria in their effort to defeat ISIS there.