WASHINGTON (AFP) – Islamic State militants have made important advances in Iraq despite US-led air strikes, Washington’s envoy to the US-led coalition fighting the group warned Wednesday.
It was clear the IS group “has made substantial gains in Iraq” and it will take time to build up local forces that could defeat them in Syria and Iraq, John Allen, a retired four-star US general, told reporters.
The Iraqi government and Kurdish forces have halted or pushed back IS militants in some places, including around Mosul dam, but the group has “tactical momentum” in other areas, Allen said.
Although the United States and its allies were carrying out air raids in both Syria and Iraq, Allen acknowledged the international coalition was most concerned with the situation in Iraq.
There, IS fighters have seized much of the western Anbar province and are closing in on the region west of the capital Baghdad.
“The emergency in Iraq right now is foremost in our thinking,” Allen said, admitting that it was too early to say which side has the upper hand.a