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Coalition, partners continue squeezing IS militants in Iraq, Syria -- statement

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 (KUNA) -- Coalition continues to support partner forces efforts to defeat the so-called Islamic State (IS) in designated areas of Iraq and Syria, and is setting conditions for the enduring defeat of (IS) in the Middle Euphrates River Valley, said a statement from the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) on Thursday.
The statement said that on the 21st of last month in Iraq "local police forces in Baghdad and Diyala increased warrant-based targeting, which resulted in 11 arrests of individuals accused of terrorism and associated with IS." "The Baghdad Operational Command also released a statement announcing the opening of al-Rashid Street for the first time in 15 years. Al-Rashid Street is one of the oldest and considered the most important street in the city. Its opening showcases the increasing stability in the city, spearheaded by the collaborative relationship between Coalition and Iraqi Forces," the statement said.
It added that "Iraqi Security Forces destroyed more than 430 improvised explosive devices through route clearance patrols." "CJTF-OIR and the ISF also conducted more than 65 coordinated fire missions, which destroyed IS weapons caches and hiding places and resulted in the removal of multiple IS fighters from the battlefield," it said.
"This is definitely a positive step, and the Government of Iraq continues to take steps to create meaningful improvements which will attract much-needed investment for reconstruction projects across Iraq," said Christopher Ghika, deputy commander-strategy and information for Operation Inherent Resolve.
CJTF-OIR said that on the 25th of January "the 7th Division of the Iraqi Army conducted clearance operations in the Jazirah area," and "identified an IED factory and seized multiple explosive-making components." "The Iraqi Army is showing impressive resiliency and determination. By conducting these clearance operations, it has a tangible disruptive effect on the enemy by maintaining pressure and by taking away their critical capabilities," said Derek Thomson, Joint Operations Command-Iraq deputy commander.
The statement also said that on the 26th of last month "a coordinated air strike destroyed one IS safe-haven, which removed two IS terrorists from the battlefield." "In Syria, CJTF-OIR partner forces have now liberated approximately 99.5 percent of IS-controlled territory following the liberation of the town of Al-Marashidah in the Abu Kamal District of Deir ez-Zor," the statement asserted.
"As we continue squeezing the remaining IS fighter in the MERV into a smaller box, now less than one percent of the original caliphate, they are attempting to escape through intermixing with the innocent women and children attempting to flee the fighting," added Ghika.
"These tactics won't succeed, our Syrian partners are focused on finding IS wherever they hide, and our Iraqi partner have secured their borders ensuring IS cannot enter Iraq," Ghika maintained. (end) rsr.ibi