Iraq and Syria continue to be bombed by the United States in support of those fighting the Islamic State (IS). Five attacks and have been launched in both Iraq and Syria against militants of the IS according to Central Command. In Kobani, the strikes were responsible for destroying nine positions and one building while the ones in Iraq took out one vehicle and four other vehicles and four buildings suffered damage. According to CNN as of October 17 the United States had launched 122 airstrikes on the city of Kobani. At that time the Anbar province was also still under control of the Iraqi forces.
In the last two days as the United States has been continuing its military bombing operation, IS has also continued to push its expansion progressively across both Iraq and Syria. A large part of Anbar is now controlled by the militants who executed 50 more tribesmen and women on Friday according to councilman Faleh al-Issawi. The killings happen almost daily, al-Issawi said. The IS are accusing tribe members of “retaliating against them” after being displaced and then they are executing them. More bodies have been found in the last few days, buried in mass graves. According to officials, the group has killed over 300 people in the last few days.
IS now controls roughly one-third of both Iraq and Syria and continues to put pressure on Kobani in an attempt to extend its reach to the border. The killings have also increased and changed to specifically include former military officials and law enforcement. Officials from both Iraq and the United States and have said that the best defense against IS is the tribes themselves. They are able to move about more easily and get to places where it is difficult to place military strikes. This makes them effective in areas where ground troops and airstrikes are of little use.
According to sources IS remains “undaunted” by the attacks and claims that the air strikes are helping their cause and causing more people to join them. A report by the United Nations security council, which was obtained by The Guardian, has found that 15,000 people from 80 different countries have joined IS and other extremist groups. Many of these countries have not faced any problems having to do with al-Qaeda. According to the report there are instances of people from very diverse backgrounds leaving their countries to fight with these groups. They are also younger than many of the previous members, this can be attributed to IS’s extensive use of social media both to spread terror and to recruit. American Officials state that these figures cannot accurately express the effectiveness of the air strikes being conducted.
Pentagon leaders released a statement outlining what the United States would be focusing on in the war against IS. Strategies included training local forces and stabilizing the region in what was quoted to be a “multi year effort” to fight against IS. The United States will continue to bomb Syria and Iraq in an effort to disrupt IS operations.
By Clara Goode
Photo courtesy of Spc. Bryanna Poulin –