Citing the retaking of Ramadi by Iraqi forces as a “turning point” in the campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq, the top U.S. general in charge of operations there said that the Pentagon has reached the “end of the beginning” in the campaign to drive the extremist group out of the country.

“The enemy suffered devastating losses [in Ramadi] and the Iraqi security forces have proven themselves capable of defeating Daesh even when the enemy has all the advantages of a prepared defense in an urban area,” Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland told reporters Monday, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State.

MacFarland, the commanding general for the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State mission, added that the defeat of the Islamic State in Iraq is “a matter of time” and that the formula of supporting Iraqi forces during offensive operations will eventually lead to the group’s defeat. More than 17,000 Iraqis and partner forces have been trained by the current U.S.-led coalition, he said.

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