FORT HOOD, Texas – The commander leading the campaign against the Islamic State in the Middle East, says challenges remain despite the impressions of the militant organization of some areas in the region.
Fort Hood commander Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk II spoke with Texas media in a video conference from Baghdad, Iraq, on Monday.
“We have a victory here (in Iraq),” Funk said. “We still have some hard fighting to do in Syria.”
Funk said approximately 240 soldiers from the sprawling Army post in Texas left for a yearlong deployment in August. The soldiers are a part of the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, a global coalition formed to fight the Islamic State.
The coalition gives Iraqi and Syrian forces training, advice and assistance, including direct artillery and air strikes on the enemy forces.
“There is a tremendous increase in the confidence and the will of the Iraqi security forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces,” Funk said. “In 2015, (IS) had more than 7 million people under their evil control. Now, at almost Christmas time 2017, approximately 6.8 million people liberated.”
Funk said areas in the region with a long-term recovery. He said that the troops will have to work to clear more than 8,000 improvised explosive devices left in Raqqa, Syria, by the fleeing soldiers IS to make the area liveable again.
“We are here to win, but we must act now,” Funk said. “We have to get the international community to help the Iraqis.”