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U.S. Air Forces Central Command Spokesman: We Will Continue to Eradicate ISIS | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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An officer from the coalition forces gives advice to Kurdish Peshmerga forces during a training session on how to fight street battles and defend the front lines on the outskirts of Dohuk province, Iraq, June 15, 2015. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari

Dubai- Lt. Col. Chris Karns, spokesman for U.S. Air Forces Central Command, said that the coalition forces are currently focusing on killing leaders of ISIS. “The coalition has already made several achievements during the previous period,” Karns said during an interview with Asharq al-Awsat.

“The coalition forces succeeded in reducing the terrorist group ability; they liberated 50% of the territories which were previously ruled by ISIS in Iraq, of course in cooperation with local forces, in addition to 22% to 24% in Syria,” he added.

The spokesman said that the coalition forces are exerting restless efforts to cut supplies to ISIS and to make use of these weapons and tools to help local forces in Mosul and Raqqa.

“It should be understood that liberating Mosul and Raqqa does not mean eradicating ISIS since this still needs a lot of time. We can’t, yet, announce victory,” he added.

Karns declared that the emphasis is currently on the events taking place in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. “The problem is not restricted to the region. As a matter of fact it is a world problem and that’s why a world solution is required far from the military one. The military solution helps in reaching the final stage but is not sufficient without the diplomatic solution. When we talk about a solution in Iraq, we mean that the Iraqi government must be the godfather of the solution,” Karns continued.

The spokesperson said that ISIS members used civilians as human shields to protect themselves in some Iraqi regions and settled in houses and schools. “It is essential that these places be discovered because Mosul and Raqqa are significant regions and ISIS will fight fiercely to remain there. This is going to be a challenge,” continued Karns.

“At the end of the day these two regions will be liberated. Some successes have already been achieved. I would like to clarify that the coalition forces presence on the ground is essential because the enemy is ISIS and its members who are committing vicious crimes are not abiding by any international laws. For this, ISIS will exert tremendous efforts to maintain control over these territories”, he said.

“We focused on attacking Mosul and Raqqa in coincidence with other regions to make ISIS lose its balance. When ISIS commits mistakes such as these that happened in Fallujah, we make use of these mistakes to defeat the group. I expect upcoming victories against ISIS in more regions”, Karns stated.

Karns said that the ongoing work in Raqqa is an intelligence one; daily investigations are being carried out to get to know the enemy’s upcoming steps. “Besides this, we are carrying out attacks in Raqqa,” he added.

Speaking of the cooperation with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries, Karns said that “We have cooperated with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, within a long-term relation… We are trying to obtain maximum advantage of countries, whether in military attacks or currently the intelligence activity, to reach tangible results in Syria and Iraq.”

When asked what message he would like to deliver to ISIS supporters, he advised them to “discover the nature of this enemy that is stealing people, using innocent people as human shields and has bad intentions against individuals who don’t believe in it or don’t show interest to join it.”

Karns concluded, “We are committed to win this war, to defeat ISIS and to assist our friends because we are partners and will always be fully prepared to offer them help.”