US says after retaking Mosul from ISIS, focus will switch to Kirkuk, Tal Afar and Sinjar

ARA News – 4 April 2017 – The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford on Tuesday announced that after Mosul the campaign against ISIS will focus on Tal Afar, Kirkuk and the Euphrates River valley near the Iraqi-Syrian border.The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff arrived on Monday in Baghdad with Jared Kushner, the senior advisor to President Donald J. Trump, and Tom Bossert, the president’s homeland security advisor. On Tuesday, the U.S. delegation arrived in the Kurdistan region to discuss the ongoing campaign against ISIS. “It is not our judgment that the Iraqis will be self-sustaining and self-sufficient in the wake of Mosul,” Dunford said. “More important, it is not Prime Minister [Haidar] Abadi’s assessment, [either]. He believes he will need continued U.S. support in Iraq post-Mosul.”“The enemy is still in Tal Afar to the west of Mosul, as well as in Kirkuk and in the Euphrates River valley near Qaim. These are the three major areas of concern once Mosul is liberated,” the chairman said.

“Mosul is important, Dunford said, but it is not the end of the campaign against the terror group. ISIS still continues to launch terror attacks in Baghdad and in other cities,” he noted. Also, Commander of US Central Command Army General Joseph L. Votel speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee said the focus will swift to other cities after Mosul.

“After Mosul operations are complete, we expect the Government of Iraq to prioritize military operations to recapture Tal Afar, Sinjar, and Hawija, and to secure the border in order to diminish ISIS’ freedom of movement and ability to target major population centers,” he concluded.  Moreover, he said that there will be a bigger focus on liberating Raqqa, the de-facto capital of ISIS in Syria.

“In Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces have almost completed the isolation phase of Raqqa operations,” he said. “And [they[ will, in the coming months, begin operations to seize Raqqa, dismantling a key node in ISIS’ external operations network,” General Votel said.

“Additionally, we would look to continue our security operations along the Jordanian border to prevent re-infiltration of ISIS remnants,” he concluded.