WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter told Congress on Thursday that the expected capture of the Syrian town of al-Shadadi would represent a key step toward dismantling Islamic State in Syria.
"By encircling and taking this town, we are seeking to sever the last major northern artery between Raqqa and Mosul, and ultimately dissect the parent tumor into two parts," Carter said in prepared remarks to the House Appropriations Committee.
For months, the town of al-Shadadi, a key logistics hub for the group, has been in the sites of U.S.-backed forces that Washington has repeatedly resupplied with weapons to bolster their advance.
Carter pointed to the battle for al-Shadadi as he cited "operationally significant strides" in the campaign against the Sunni militant group, including Iraq's recapture of the city of Ramadi from Islamic State last year.
U.S. Marine Corps General Joseph Duford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the campaign against Islamic State now had the momentum in Iraq.
"We've trained over 15,000 in Iraq and the evidence of their performance was recently demonstrated in Ramadi and is currently demonstrated in Anbar province," Dunford said.
(Reporting by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali; Editing by Eric Walsh and Alan Crosby)