"We believe that the strategic and operational momentum of Daish [IS] has been halted," Gen. Allen said Thursday, adding that while he expects some ground will be traded back and forth between extremists and coalition forces, the start of US and its allies' training of the Iraqi Security Forces and Syria's "moderate" opposition "will begin the process of reversing the momentum in Iraq" and ultimately restoring its territorial integrity.
According to the General, the main focus of US efforts against IS militants is Iraq, while Syria comes second. The United States is expected to begin a program to retrain Iraqi security forces under the new government of Iraq, Allen explained, adding that members of the coalition are also keeping a close watch on neighboring countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Lebanon.
The program was temporarily authorized by Congress in September. Earlier that month, Obama announced his anti-IS strategy, which stipulated forming an international coalition to fight against the radical jihadist group, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The coalition has been launching airstrikes against IS targets since September and currently has 62 participating states, with multiple international organizations also taking part in the US-led campaign.