“SDF forces driving south have reached the Euphrates River northwest of Raqqa, which will help to isolate ISIL forces on that side of the river,” he told reporters. “Importantly, as they continue this isolation of Raqqa, the SDF is continuing to attract Arab fighters for future operations against ISIL.”
Strike in Afghanistan Kills al-Qaida Leaders
Turning to counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan, Cook said an Oct. 23 U.S. precision airstrike near Kunar killed three senior al-Qaida leaders.
The Defense Department had previously announced that the strike killed Faruq al-Qatani, al-Qaida's emir for eastern Afghanistan, Cook said. Officials now have determined the same strike also killed Bilal al-Utabyi, Qatani's deputy, as well as Abd al-Wahid al-Junabi, a senior al-Qaida explosives expert, the press secretary told reporters.
“The deaths of these three senior al-Qaida leaders will significantly disrupt the group’s ability to threaten the United States, our interests and our allies and highlights our continuing commitment to the counterterrorism mission in Afghanistan,” he said. “This strike is further evidence that those who seek to do us harm are not beyond our reach.”
Cook began his briefing by telling reporters the Defense Department condemns the shooting of a Russian ambassador in Turkey, an event that was unfolding as the briefing began.
“We are aware of the situation in Turkey and the shooting of the Russian ambassador, and we condemn this act of violence,” the press secretary said. “Our thoughts are with the victims and their families.”
(Source: US Department of Defense)