ISIS Fighters on the Defense

ISIS fighters in Iraq are largely in a “defensive posture” and do not seriously threaten significant advances around Baghdad, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters Tuesday. The terrorist organization controls Mosul, contests areas such as Ramadi in Anbar Province, and threatens the city of Baiji (though the Iraqi government has retaken control of the oil refinery in the city). The Iraqi government and the coalition need to be prepared for “renewed offensive operations” by ISIS; however, airstrikes combined with Iraqi and Kurdish forces on the ground have had a “dramatic effect” on the combat capabilities of ISIS, reducing their mobility, and severely affecting their finances by limiting the ability of the group to refine and sell black market oil, said Kirby. Training also began in late December for some 12 brigades worth of Iraqi and Kurdish peshmerga troops, Kirby noted, which is on a “limited scale” at sites including Taji, north of Baghdad, and at Asad AB, in Anbar province. Kirby dismissed reports of rocket and mortar fire at the 25-square mile base as “unguided and unobserved events,” which have proved largely ineffective and do not constitute a “significant threat” to US advisors or Iraqi forces.