The defeat of Islamic State by Iraqi forces is now “a matter of when, not if” according to Australia’s chief of joint operations, V-Adm David Johnston.
Johnston told journalists the recent advances by Iraqi government troops around Ramadi, east of Baghdad and near Sinjar in the north, and the recapture of parts of Baji, had led to a significant shift in momentum, and had made it difficult for Isis to move forces and equipment between battlefields and to resupply its fighters.
The coalition had also struck oil fields, restricting the terrorist group’s cash flow from oil sales.
“Significant progress being made on the ground,” Johnston said.
“The momentum in the fight has shifted significantly and whilst I wouldn’t put a timeline on it, I think it is only a matter of time now until the Iraqi army does actually succeed and defeats Daesh in Iraq,” he said.
Johnston said he believed about 10,000 Daesh fighters had been killed in Iraq this year and another 10,000 in Syria.
He said Australia had now participated in 917 airstrikes as part of the coalition assisting the fight against Isis in Iraq and Syria.
There was a “thorough analysis” after each airstrike and “to my knowledge … we have not caused civilian combat casualties”.
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