III Corps' Commanding General Lieutenant General Paul Funk said the fighting against ISIS is as difficult for troops as it was for soldiers during WWII.
Funk said his troops meticulously cleared street by street, house by house to rid cities of ISIS like Raqqah in Syria and Mosul in Iraq. He said, so far in 2017 alone, there have been 117 ISIS leaders killed. But the fighting continues.
"We are an eyelash away from the defeat of the physical califate," the General said.
He said ISIS is fighting for their survival now as forces move in.
"We are about 6 km from linking up the Syrian Democratic forces with Iraq Security Forces in the middle of the Euphrates Valley," he said.
Even with the success, the Commander still has concerns going forward, citing people who are still disadvantaged, people who are unemployed and people who are divided because of religious sects.
But he said, despite those concerns, he has hope, as the Iraqis have increasing nationalism and have a hope for a brighter future.
In the meantime, ISIS left IEDs and booby traps in their wake.
"It's going to take a while to clear what we call explosive remnants of war. They put booby traps and bombs in every house. So it is house by house, it's dangerous work," he said.
With soldiers far from home, the fight intense, the holidays approaching, Funk and his team are making sure the soldiers get a taste of the Thanksgiving dinner to every base in Syria and Iraq--and a taste of home. Commander Sergeant Major Michael Crosby said they are connecting soldiers via satellite cell phone to talk with families and loved ones.