US air campaign against Islamic State expands to southwestern Baghdad

The US military has expanded its air operations against the Islamic State, striking at the group “southwest of Baghdad” over the past several days.

“The airstrike southwest of Baghdad was the first strike taken as part of our expanded efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions to hit ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on offense, as outlined in the President’s speech last Wednesday,” US Central Command noted in a press release issued late yesterday.

The airstrike destroyed “an ISIL fighting position southwest of Baghdad that was firing on ISF [Iraqi security forces] personnel.”

Also, the US military “destroyed six ISIL vehicles” near Sinjar in Ninewa province. CENTCOM has launched 162 airstrikes in Iraq since the US intervened on Aug. 7.

Although CENTCOM did not say where the airstrikes southwest of Baghdad have taken place, in all likelihood they occurred in Jurf al Sakhar in northern Babil province. The Islamic State and its allies have successfully occupied much of northern Babil and have launched ferocious attacks against Iraqi security forces in the area. The Iraqi military has repeatedly claimed to have cleared Jurf al Sakhar, but the Islamic State continues to hold ground there. [See Joel Wing’s report on northern Babil from July 9 at Musings on Iraq; little has changed in northern Babil in the two-plus months since it was written. Also note this prescient report from May on the deteriorating situation in Babil.]

Northern Babil is a key front for the Islamic State, and yet it receives little attention as the fighting in the north (Ninewa), center (Salahaddin and Diyala), and west (Anbar) tends to dominate the news coverage. Northern Babil is one of five key “belts” around Baghdad that have been targeted as part of the Islamic State’s strategy to strangle Baghdad. [See LWJ report, ISIS, allies reviving ‘Baghdad belts’ battle plan.]

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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6 Comments

  • pre-Boomer Marine brat says:

    I don’t see this happening without Iranian knowledge, and probable consent.
    I’m beginning to wonder if the high-level pronouncements on both sides are only a smoke screen.

  • gerald says:

    Kill em where you find them! Happy Hunting!!

  • blert says:

    Bill…
    Your link indicates that the Iraqi Army has institutional amnesia.
    Everything that the USMC and US Army taught has been lost — already.
    Indeed, the politics would indicate that the Shi’ite centric army is a dead duck the moment it enters Sunni lands.
    Al Maliki apparently pulled his army out once his buddy (the replacement) told him that the locals are not providing any information on the opfor. For he pulled out immediately and never went back.
    He must have started calling Washington, expecting DC to bail him out. Taking Iranian ‘advice’ destroyed his nation. I can’t imagine how — or why — Iraq would be restored.

  • Bill S. says:

    US airstrikes against the ISIL have been heavily targeted against vehicles. There have been a number of airstrikes against ISIL positions, but the US airstrikes seem overwhelmingly target towards vehicles. There seems to be a clear strategy behind this: disrupting the freedom of movement and communication of ISIL without getting too closely locked in to Iraqi ground campaigns and the subsequent factional and political disputes.

  • Thad says:

    Hahaha… Airstrikes/Droning.
    No Boots No Oil Booty

  • Eric says:

    //news.yahoo.com/ap-interview-iraq-premier-says-no-foreign-troops-134747998.html
    AP released an interview in which the new Prime Minister expressly forbids foreign troops to fight ISIS in Iraq.
    Haider al-Abadi is clinging closely to the Ayatollah Khamenei’s robes. Iran wants to boycott the US coalition, and it looks like Iraq wants whatever Iran says.
    I’m thinking we need to move along to Dempsey’s Plan B right away. Except it’s an election year, so we will be waiting until November 6 to hear what that is going to be.
    Meantime, we have plenty of work to do in Iraq and Syria keeping ISIS heads down.

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