A pair of U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles fly over northern Iraq early in the morning of Sept. 23, 2014, after conducting airstrikes in Syria. These aircraft were part of a large coalition strike package that was the first to strike ISIL targets in Syria. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Bruch/Released)
Since 2014, when the Islamic State, or ISIS, began its campaign of terror in earnest, the US military and its allies and partners have conducted almost an astounding 35,000 airstrikes against the terrorist organization.
More specifically, from August 2014 to September 2020, the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) launched 34,917 airstrikes, according to data obtained by the Military Times. In the almost two months that have elapsed since the reported data, it’s reasonable to assume that the airstrikes have crossed the 35,000 line.
The CJTF-OIR, which at times has included more than 30 nations, didn’t disclose the kind of aircraft nor the type of ordnance used. From open sources, we know that the airstrikes have predominately been carried out by an assortment of aircraft, including F-15E Strike Eagles, F/A-18 Super Hornets, F-22 Raptors, F-35 Lightning IIs (both the Air Force’s A variant and the Marine Corps’ B variant), F-16 Fighting Falcons, Tornado GR4s, Rafales, Mirage 2000s, Super Etendards, Eurofighters, A-10 Warthogs, B-1 Lancers, B-52 Stratorfortresses, and MQ-9 Reaper drones.
In 2014 and 2015, ISIS conducted a blitzkrieg campaign that even threatened Baghdad. It had more than 40,000 fighters and controlled almost 43 thousand square miles. Big and strategic cities that US and Coalition forces had fought so hard for during the insurgency were falling one after the other. ISIS fighters captured Raqqa, Mosul, Fallujah, and Ramadi, among other smaller hubs.
As a result, by January 2015, the US military had already conducted 16,000 airstrikes in an attempt to stem ISIS’s advance. Then, utilizing the same recipe that the US military had used in the initial days of the war in Afghanistan, the US-led coalition began pushing ISIS back. Special operations troops guiding airpower and partnered with local forces defeated ISIS.
“Despite the territorial defeat of ISIS, the degradation of its leadership, and the widespread refutation of its ideology, this violent Islamist extremist group still poses a threat,” said Marine Captain Jose Uriarte, a CJTF spokesperson, to the Military Times.
In the first two weeks of November alone, coalition and partner units conducted 29 operations against ISIS, capturing or killing 17 low and middle level leaders and 26 fighters. In October, the coalition and its partners conducted 100 operations, capturing or killing 67 low and middle level leaders and 41 fighters.
The current US footprint in Syria is limited to a few thousand troops (mechanized, infantry, and special operations) that assist the SDF in its fight against the remnants of the terrorist group.
“Combined Joint Task Force–Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) continues to work by, with, and through our local partners in Syria to ensure the enduring defeat of Daesh,” added Captain Uriarte.
Since 2014, the anti-ISIS coalition has divested $5 billion worth of materiel to the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Iraqi military and law enforcement.
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