U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday that he planned to hold a news conference in two weeks to discuss the U.S.-led coalition’s fight against the Islamic State militant group.
Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House ahead of a scheduled meeting with his Cabinet, gave no specific date or any other details about the news conference.
On June 2, the U.S. combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve said Iraqi forces are closing in on the final terrorist-held areas in western Mosul, while coalition forces in Syria are just a few km from the key city of Raqqa.
Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the operation, said this in New York in a statement.
“The Iraqis are making steady progress as they approach the last three western Mosul neighbourhoods held by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
“The remaining ISIS fighters hold less than 10 square km of the city.
“Liberating these final neighbourhoods will be among the most difficult fighting the Iraqi forces have faced in their campaign to defeat ISIS,” Dillon said.
He said that coalition forces conducted 21 strikes in the past week in support of the efforts of Iraqi security forces.
He added that coalition forces hit mortars, machine guns, multiple vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices and factories where they are made.
Dillon said that coalition forces struck more than 120 vehicles in the past week alone, adding that vehicle-borne bombs were the terrorists’ weapon of choice in Mosul.
The army spokesman said that while the Iraqi government had instructed civilians to evacuate Mosul’s Old City, the terrorists are targeting fleeing civilians.
“Citizens have been herded and forced into buildings where they are trapped to be used for ISIS’ sinister tactics.
“Citizens have been shot by ISIS snipers while trying to evacuate; they are victims of ISIS-emplaced bombs and bobby traps as they attempted to flee,” he said.
Dillon said that Iraqi forces had established safe passages along the forward line of troops to allow civilians get to muster points and screening sites outside of the city.
“Syrian Democratic Forces continue to close in on ISIS around Raqqa, gaining about 350 square kilometers in the last week.
“The SDF is poised around Raqqa, they’re within three-km of Raqqa city from the north and the east, and are about 10 km from the city to the west,” he added.
He said that coalition forces conducted 59 strikes in support of the isolation of Raqqa, hitting fighting positions, construction equipment, artillery systems and command-and-control nodes.
He added the coalition forces continue to engage ISIS targets wherever they are found.