Outgoing US Commander in Iraq: ISIS Collapsing on 'All Fronts'

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland greets U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter and his wife, Stephanie, during a recent trip to Baghdad. (DoD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Clydell Kinchen)
U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland greets U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter and his wife, Stephanie, during a recent trip to Baghdad. (DoD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Clydell Kinchen)

The outgoing commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria said Wednesday that "the enemy is in retreat on all fronts" as local forces backed by U.S. and coalition airpower press offensives.

"You don't hear the world 'stalemate' anymore" to describe the anti-ISIS campaign, Army Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, the commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said in a briefing from his Baghdad headquarters to the Pentagon.

After nearly a year as CJTF-OIR commander, MacFarland said he will be turning over the post in about 10 days to Army Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

MacFarland called Townsend the perfect replacement. He cited Townsend's experience in a previous tour in Iraq in the northwestern Iraqi city of Mosul, which is the next major objective in the campaign against ISIS in Iraq.

MacFarland declined to give timeframes for coming offensives but said the campaign in Iraq was more advanced than the effort in Syria amid a civil war.

In either case, "I am 100 percent certain that Daesh will be eliminated as a governing entity in Iraq and Syria," MacFarland said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Mililtary.com.

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