US Vice President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Ash Carter said progress made in the fight against ISIS in Iraq.
Speaking in National Defense University, Vice President Biden praised recent efforts by Iraqi forces against ISIS saying local forces have made significant gains against the group on the battlefield with the help of coalition air strikes led by the United States.
“ISIL's momentum in Iraq has halted and in many places had been flat out reversed,” Biden said.
In an offensive against ISIS, Iraqi government forces have retaken Tikrit with the help of US air strikes and Iranian backed Shiite militias.
The city was captured by ISIS, which also captured Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, in last June during a large offensive in northeast Iraq.
Biden adopted a cautiously optimistic view about the future saying "There's still a long fight ahead - I don't want to paint an overly rosy picture here - but ISIL's aura of invincibility has been pierced."
Carter echoed Biden’s comments, albeit putting more weight to US role in the fight.
Speaking in a joint news conference with his South Korean counterpart in Seoul, Carter said the US made progress against ISIS in Iraq, however he could not give an estimate as to how long fighting will continue.
Biden also praised the leaders from Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish groups in Iraq for coming together against ISIS.
He pointed to ISIS as a factor uniting factions in Iraq saying: “The irony of all ironies is that Iraq was actually helped [to] form its government because of ISIL. ISIL, the very outfit that intended to tear Iraq apart and establish a caliphate, it actually united Iraqis.”
The assessments came just a week ahead of a White House meeting between US President Barack Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, where the main issue is expected to be the fight against ISIS.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi announced the Anbar province as their next target and that Iraqi government forces launched an offensive to retake the region from ISIS Wednesday.