Counter-ISIL Coalition Provides Air Support in Battle for Tikrit

U.S. Department of State – Office of the Spokesperson – Statement by Jen Psaki

At the request of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, the Coalition today launched airstrikes in and around Tikrit in support of Iraqi Security Forces ground operations. These strikes were designed to destroy ISIL strongholds with precision – protecting innocent Iraqis by minimizing damage to infrastructure, and enabling Iraqi forces under Iraqi command to continue offensive operations against ISIL in the vicinity of Tikrit. All strikes were coordinated with the Government of Iraq and Iraqi Security Forces through our Joint Operation Center in Baghdad.

Before today, the Coalition has conducted 2,967 airstrikes against ISIL terrorists, 1,678 in Iraq and 1,289 in Syria. These airstrikes have had a significant impact on ISIL – taking out thousands of fighters, numerous commanders, nearly 1,500 vehicles and tanks, over 100 artillery and mortar positions, and nearly 3,400 fighting positions, training camps, and bunkers in Iraq and Syria. Airstrikes have also damaged close to 200 oil and gas facilities – infrastructure that in part funds ISIL’s terror. In addition, Coalition trainers have begun training Iraqi Army brigades at four sites in Iraq, and Coalition advisors have helped enable more than two dozen ground operations against ISIL strongholds across Iraq.

The cumulative effect of these actions has been enormous. ISIL can no longer operate freely in roughly 25 percent of populated areas of Iraqi territory where they once could. Its momentum has been blunted, its ability to mass and maneuver forces degraded, its leadership cells eliminated or pressured, and its supply lines severed. ISIL is now on the defensive in Iraq and the lives of innocent Iraqis of all faiths and ethnicity have been saved. As Iraqi forces increasingly mount offensive operations, they must do so under Iraqi command, with concerted efforts to protect local populations, and secure the human rights of all Iraqi citizens as mandated under the Iraqi constitution and as Prime Minister Abadi and other Iraq leaders have pledged.

The United States and the Iraqi Government will continue to work together on our shared goal of defeating ISIL and training a professional national security force that can protect all the Iraqi people against extremist threats.