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US-Led Coalition Further Decreases Number of Airstrikes against ISIS


The number of airstrikes of the US-led coalition on terrorists in Syria and Iraq has been significantly reduced in December.

US-Led Coalition Further Decreases Number of Airstrikes against ISIS

Photo: US Air Force / Master Sgt. Kevin J. Gruenwald

In December, the US-led coalition has significantly reduced the number of its airstrikes on terrorists in Syria and Iraq, the Izvestiya newspaper reported, citing official reports from the headquarters of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR). The newspaper noted that the effectiveness of the air raids of the coalition is highly questionable, since tractors or even rubbish trucks often become targets for these airstrikes. The coalition’s air power also did virtually nothing to prevent the escape of militants from Mosul to Raqqa.

According to the official reports from the headquarters of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), the coalition’s air power has carried out 148 airstrikes on targets in Syria and Iraq in the first ten days of December, while for the same period of the last month, the number of the airstrikes was 220. In this way, despite the ongoing fighting near Mosul and activation of militants in Raqqa, the number of missile and bomb attacks has decreased by about a third. At the beginning of this month, the number of airstrikes on targets in Iraq and Syria did not exceed a dozen per day, and, for example, on December 2, there were only four airstrikes.

It is remarkable that the US-led coalition considers actions of a single aircraft, as well as a massive air raid as an airstrike. According to the reports, massive air raids are now a rarity. The coalition’s air power carries out them only when forces, allied to the US begin some large-scale operation.

Airstrikes against the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group in Syria are mainly carried out in order to support Kurdish units, advancing to Raqqa. So, over the past weekend, ten airstrikes were carried out in the area of the Syrian town of Ayn Issa, located north of the capital of the self-proclaimed caliphate.

As for the rest, single vehicles or construction equipment (trucks, tractors, front loaders, bulldozers and even rubbish trucks) are very often indicated as targets for the airstrikes. Usually, it is reported only that a ‘tactical unit’ was attacked and results of the airstrike are unknown. Moreover, the coalition’s air power hunts mainly facilities of the oil infrastructure and fuel tankers in Syria.

However, the coalition operates differently in Iraq. There, its aircraft carry out airstrikes mainly to support the government forces, operating near Mosul and its surrounding areas. Bunkers, tunnels and field fortifications of terrorists are often included in lists of damaged targets. At the same time, there are no reports that coalition’s aircraft targeted convoys, moving in the direction of Raqqa, although they are a relatively easy target in conditions of the gaunt landscape.

According to experts, the experience of fighting in Syria and Iraq has shown that the air power is not effective without combination of airstrikes with operations of the ground forces. As independent military expert Anton Lavrov told Izvestiya, the reducing of the number of sorties in early December could be connected with sandstorms, which did not let to use aircraft for combat purposes. However, he also noted that it could be just a handy excuse because there was not any impact on militants, retreating out of Mosul.

“There was not intensification of airstrikes, and they reached Raqqa practically without problems,” Lavrov said.

Coalition’s aircraft often fly to patrol a predetermined area, the so-called kill box. And not every sortie is effective, as in Syria (unlike Iraq) they do not have the well-organized intelligence and air controllers.

According to experts, the Russian Aerospace Forces make about 40-60 sorties per day, so, at least twice more than the US-led coalition.

“At the peak of activity there could be up to 100 sorties of the Russian air power per day, but now there are less attack aircraft there,” Lavrov explained.



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