May 19, 2017 / 5:49 PM / 3 months ago

U.S.' Mattis says coalition will encircle IS fighters, before starting military campaign

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis speaks at the opening of the 53rd Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 17, 2017.Michael Dalder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Friday the U.S.-led coalition was now encircling Islamic State fighters in their strongholds in a tactical shift before starting a military campaign to destroy them.

Also speaking at the Pentagon on Friday, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford, said strikes against Syrian government-backed fighters this week were a "force protection measure," and would not happen again if U.S. forces are not threatened.

Reporting by Phil Stewart and David Alexander; writing by Yara Bayoumy, editing by G Crosse

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