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NEWS | Dec. 10, 2020

U.S. hosts media outlets in Iraq, Syria over Thanksgiving


The Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve hosted correspondents from BBC and CBS News Nov. 23-29, 2020, to provide a first-hand look at the ongoing operations aimed at providing stability and normalcy in the Middle East.

Nafiseh Kohnovard, BBC, and Holly Williams, CBS News, both visited and conducted separate tours of facilities where Coalition members were assigned throughout Iraq and Syria, often stopping to interview troops and senior leaders.

“While we are no longer conducting training operations with our partner forces in Iraq, there’s an important story that needs to be told regarding the readiness and combat capabilities of the military for the Government of Iraq,” said Lt. Col. James R. Wilson, Deputy Director of Public Affairs, CJTF-OIR. “The Iraqi Security Forces and the Counter Terrorism Service deserve a tremendous amount of credit for achieving the status they have as a legitimate and capable fighting force.”

Kohnovard spent time in Baghdad interviewing officials from CJTF-OIR before arriving for a return trip to Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, where she visited earlier this year gathering footage for a documentary highlighting the Coalition’s support to Iraq in the fight against Da’esh.

Williams focused her trip on recent Coalition achievements and remaining work while visiting Baghdad, Erbil Air Base, Iraq, and outstations in eastern Syria. She also took time to report on how service members spent the Thanksgiving holiday while deployed to the Middle East.

Sgt. William Mills, a member of the 82nd Airborne Division currently providing security on patrols in Syria, was one of the members Williams featured in her segment. Asked how he viewed spending the holidays performing such an important mission instead of being back home with family, he explained the joy his unit brings to local children makes it all worthwhile.

“It takes your mind elsewhere,” he said. “[For a moment] you kind of forget the situation you’re in – it’s nice to relax and hangout [with them].”

The media visits are part of the Coalition’s ongoing efforts to highlight how conditions have improved in Iraq and Syria to a global audience.