- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 24, 2021

The U.S. military and its Iraqi partners this month launched a major offensive against the remnants of the Islamic State in Iraq, unleashing 312 airstrikes and a ground assault that killed at least 27 terrorists.

The campaign reportedly began March 9 and continued for weeks, with U.S. airpower supporting Iraqi Security Forces and other local troops in one of the most aggressive operations in recent years.

Col. Wayne Marotto, a spokesman for the U.S.-led Operation Inherent Resolve, said in a tweet Wednesday that U.S. and Iraqi air forces launched the massive bombardment in the Makhmour mountains region in northern Iraq.

Iraqi forces also conducted ground operations.

“This is some tough terrain and Daesh was hiding out in caves and tunnels,” Col. Marotto told the Military Times, using a common alternate name for ISIS. “In support of the [Iraqi Security Forces], the U.S. Air Force F-15E and F-16 were part of the coalition airpower used against Daesh to eliminate Daesh remnants.”

At least 120 ISIS hideouts were destroyed as part of the offensive, dubbed Operation Ready Lion.

While ISIS once controlled a huge swath of territory across Iraq and Syria, U.S. officials argue that the extremist group has been “territorially defeated” and no longer boasts the kind of ground army it had in its heyday during former President Obama’s tenure.

Still, the U.S. believes that thousands of ISIS fighters are still in Iraq and Syria. The group also has a sizable presence in Afghanistan.

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