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    In this Monday, Nov. 6, 2017 photo, U.S. Marines prepare to build a military site during a sandstorm in western Anbar, Iraq. The US-led coalition's newest outpost in the fight against the Islamic State group is in this dusty corner of western Iraq near the border with Syria where several hundred American Marines operate close to the battlefront, a key factor in the recent series of swift victories against the extremists.

    US-Led Coalition Shifts Operations in Iraq to ‘Sustaining Gains’ Against Daesh

    © AP Photo / Khalid Mohammed
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US-led Coalition against the Islamic State (Daesh) announced in a press release on Monday a shift from combat operations in Iraq to a focus on sustaining and securing the gains made against the terrorist organization.

    "As a result of the successful operations by the Coalition and its partners, Daesh [Islamic State] has lost approximately 98 percent of the territory it once held in Iraq and Syria," the release said. "Enabled by accelerated successes following the liberation of Mosul, the Coalition will shift its focus in Iraq from enabling combat operations to sustaining military gains against Daesh."

    Operation Inherent Resolve Director of Operations Brig. Gen. Jonathan Braga said in the release that the focus of operations will now be on "policing, border control and military capacity building."

    However, Braga acknowledged that the Islamic State retains the capability to mount lethal attacks and continues to pose "a potent threat to civilians and to the stability of the region."

    The Coalition-partnered approach to military operations will seek enable the international community’s diplomatic and economic efforts to capitalize on the military gains of the past year in order to prevent the conditions under which Daesh could re-emerge, the release explained.

    "Military success has bought time, space and security for non-military stabilization efforts to help the people of Iraq, and we look to facilitate the return of normalcy for Iraqis," Braga said.

    Moreover, the release noted that continued Coalition presence in Iraq will be conditions-based, proportional to the need and in coordination with the government of Iraq.

    "We will redouble our efforts to develop the Iraqi Security Forces, ensuring they have the necessary capability and expertise to meet current and future security threats. We remain committed to working with our Iraqi partners," Braga said.

    The Coalition asserted that 2018 will be a critical year in adjusting its forces as it consolidates gains against Daesh, but has not provided specifics on individual nations' plans and contributions, according to the release.

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    Daesh, US-led coalition, Iraqi Kurdistan, United States
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