DOD: Iraqi offensive against ISIS 'a ways off'

Despite Iraqi security forces taking back territory from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL), they are not ready to launch a “major offensive” against the terror group, the Defense Department’s top spokesman said Tuesday.
 
“We recognize that [while] a major offensive against ISIL may still be a ways off, these are encouraging reports that highlight Iraq's determination to take the fight to ISIL,” Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said.
 

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He ticked off a series of instances where Iraqi government forces, with the backing of airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition, have made gains.
 
Kriby said security forces were “making progress” to expand their control around the key oil refinery town of Baiji and advancing against ISIS forces in Amiriyah and southwest of Baghdad.
 
In Northern Iraq, Kurdish forces, commonly referred to as peshmerga, regained control of Zumar, a town approximately 40 miles southwest of Mosul, ahead of schedule, according to Kirby.
 
“The operation was planned … for over a week, but objectives were achieved in a number of days,” he told reporters, adding that it was the fourth offensive launched by the local force.
 
Meanwhile, Kirby said the situation around the border town of Kobani in Syria “remains tenuous.”
 
“No one underestimates the challenges before us. As we've said from the outset, this campaign is going to be challenging, and it's going to take time,” he said.
 
Kirby also announced that on Monday the U.S. conducted a humanitarian aid drop in Anbar province, delivering 7,000 meals to a tribe displaced by ISIS forces.
 
He later said the cost for operations against the terror organization remains around $8.3 million per day and that the total price tag is about $580 million since airstrikes began on Aug. 8.