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James Mattis, Gen. Joseph Dunford Outline Achievements of Anti-ISIS Coalition

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State militant group has worked to reduce ISIS-held territory and diminish the group’s financial resources, leadership and freedom of movement since coalition efforts began in 2014, DoD News reported Friday.

Dunford told reporters in a Pentagon briefing that the coalition has closed the Turkish-Syrian border in an effort to decrease the flow of foreign fighters, weapons and money to ISIS.

The general noted that the number of foreign fighters who cross the border every month has dropped to less than 100 from approximately 1,500 during its peak.

Dunford said he is working with more than 60 defense leaders to expand the coalition and cut communications between ISIS affiliates and associates.

Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters that the coalition applied changes in the delegation of authority and in engaging adversaries following a review of anti-ISIS efforts directed by President Donald Trump.

The coalition shifted from driving militants out of safe areas to surrounding the group in their strongholds in a push to prevent escaped foreign fighters from returning home, Mattis stated.

The secretary added the coalition has grown to 68 member nations and organizations, with 26 countries contributing approximately 4,000 non-U.S. troops.

Trump’s special envoy Brett McGurk said the coalition also launched a post-conflict effort that seeks to restore communities affected by the fight against ISIS.

Coalition forces trained Iraqis to de-mine facilities and the effort has removed 34 tons of explosive material to date and brought 1.7 million displaced individuals back to their homes in Iraq, McGurk noted.

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