The deaths of three more top ISIL leaders by acoalition airstrike was recently announced by thePentagon. Two of leaders -- Salah Gourmat, andSammy Djedou – - were involved in facilitating theNov. 13, 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris. The third,Walid Hamman, was a suicide attack plannerconvicted in absentia in Belgium for a terror plot disrupted in 2015.
Brett McGurk, Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, said the three join agrowing list of key ISIL leaders who have been targeted and eliminated.
At a press briefing, Mr. McGurk spoke of other successes in the fight: the significant shrinkingof the territory of the so-called caliphate; the dwindling number of battle-ready ISIL fightersinside Iraq and Syria; the ongoing destruction of ISIL's economic base; the substantialdecrease in ISIL messaging on the internet; the degrading of ISIL's affiliates across the board,including in Libya, the Lake Chad Basin, and Afghanistan.
Mr. McGurk also pointed to the enormous pressure being put on ISIL by the campaigns totake back its two so-called capitals of Mosul and Raqqa.
The successes have not come without cost to the Coalition. Special Envoy McGurk noted thedeaths of five U.S. military personnel who have been killed in the fight so far. He spoke of thecasualties suffered by Iraqi security forces who are “fighting heroically” to retake theirterritory. He also pointed to the more than 1000 casualties suffered by Syrian DemocraticForces in the crucial battle to retake Manbij in Syria.
“It is significant,” Mr. McGurk said, “that all ground that we have taken as a coalition, workingwith locals...none of it, ISIL has been able to retake. And that is because before we do any ofthis, we make a tremendous effort...to prepare the ground politically, economically, to get thestabilization resources in place to help make sure people can return to their homes, and makesure that the defeat of ISIL is a lasting one.”
Special Envoy McGurk declared that ISIL remains a threat -- both to the Syrians and Iraqisunder its control, and because of the group's recruitment of “deranged individuals from all overthe world to act in their name.” But overall the campaign against ISIL, he said, “hasmomentum. We're always looking for ways to accelerate it...and we will not stop until wedestroy this enemy.”