“We can provide a wide range of options to our nation and allies in deterring adversarial aggression and disruption of maritime security and regional stability,” the strike group commander, Rear Adm. Scott Robertson, declared as quoted in a Friday report by Daily Press a local newspaper in Newport News, Virginia, home to major US naval bases that deploy warships to the Western Asia and Persian Gulf regions.
According to the report, US warplanes “from Carrier Air Wing 3” -- based at the nearby Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach – began flying on March 31 “in support of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve to demonstrate US commitment to security in the region.”
In addition to the Norfolk-based USS Eisenhower and Carrier Air Wing 3, the strike group also includes guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey and the destroyers USS Mitscher, USS Laboon, USS Mahan and USS Thomas Hudner, the report added.
Currently operating in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, the strike group was initially deployed five weeks ago, “and operations so far included a joint exercise with the Royal Moroccan Navy and Air Force and with a multi-national group led by Romanian forces in the Black Sea,” it further noted.
The report also cited task force spokesman Col. Wayne Marotto as claiming last week that the latest US operations against purported Daesh “holdouts in northern Iraq’s Makhmour Mountains” included “more than 300 airstrikes, which hit 120 hideouts and killed 27 terrorists.”
Such claims -- though never mentioned in Iraqi media outlets --came amid recent reports that US forces occupying Syria have airlifted 40 members of the notorious Daesh terror group from al-Houri prison to a military base in al-Shadadi city in the country’s southern Hasakah province.
Al-Houl prison lies east of Hasakah city and is run by the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – a US-sponsored anti-Damascus alliance of predominantly Kurdish militants.
Two Iraqi terrorists, identified as Ziyad Idris (aka Abu Saif al-Iraqi), and Najdat Masoud Rida (aka Abu Bakr al-Furati), were among those airlifted to al-Shadadi, SANA added.