US targets Islamic State in 21 strikes in Syria, Iraq

The US military launched 21 more airstrikes against the Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria yesterday and today. The strikes did not target the so-called Khorasan group, a cadre of al Qaeda leaders and operatives who are embedded with the Al Nusrah Front and are plotting to conduct attacks in the West.

Yesterday, “a mix of bomber and remotely piloted aircraft ” targeted Islamic State “armed vehicles” southwest of the city of Dier al Zour in Syria, another press release today that noted five strikes in Iraq and Syria in the past 24 hours. Two Islamic State “armed vehicles and a weapons cache” were destroyed in two strikes west of Baghdad, and two ‘fighting positions” were destroyed in another two airstrikes southeast of Irbil. In Syria, northwest of the Iraiq town of Al Qaim, eight Islamic State vehicles were “damaged” in another airstrike.

All eight of those airstrikes in Iraq and Syria were executed by US warplanes.

And on Sept. 24, US, Saudi, and United Arab Emirates aircraft launched another 13 airstrikes against “12 [Islamic State]-controlled modular oil refineries located in remote areas of eastern Syria in the vicinity of Al Mayadin, Al Hasakah, and Abu Kamal and one ISIL vehicle near Dier al Zour, also in eastern Syria.”

“These small-scale refineries provided fuel to run ISIL operations, money to finance their continued attacks throughout Iraq and Syria, and an economic asset to support their future operations,” CENTCOM reported. “Producing between 300-500 barrels of refined petroleum per day, ISIL is estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day from these refineries.”

The Islamic State is in control of several oil wells, gas fields, and refineries inside Syria and Iraq.

The US has now launched 211 airstrikes against the Islamic State inside Iraq since the air campaign began on Aug. 7, according to CENTCOM. US and allied forces launched 15 airstrikes against the Islamic State inside Syria since Sept. 22.

Additionally, the US launched eight missile strikes against al Qaeda’s Khorasan group in Syria on Sept. 22 as part of an effort “to disrupt the imminent attack plotting against the United States and Western interests.” The US targeted al Qaeda “training camps, an explosives and munitions production facility, a communication building and command and control facilities” in the air strikes and cruise missile attacks. Allied forces from five Arab countries did not participate in the attacks on the Khorasan group.

An Al Nusrah Front “commander” known as Abu Yusuf al Turki is reported to have been killed in the US attack in Syria. Al Turki trained fighters how to become snipers and fought in Afghanistan and Iraq. [See LWJ reports, US airstrikes target Al Nusrah Front, Islamic State in Syria and US air war against jihadists in Syria begins.]

The US did not follow up on the Sept. 22 strikes on the Khorasan group. The US military is still assessing the impact of the strikes against the group, Rear Admiral John Kirby, the spokesman for Pentagon stated yesterday in an interview that focused primarily on the Islamic State.

Kirby said that the US “did have good information that they were in the final planning stages of an attack against Western targets, potentially the US homeland or Europe.”

“We’re not going to take our eye off this group, or their capabilities or their intentions,” Kirby continued.

Interview with Rear Admiral John Kirby:

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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  • KW64 says:

    An FSA source complained that they were not consulted before any airstrikes. Had they been, and Al Nusrah Front targets were hit, it surely would have complicated their relationship with Al Nusrah. If our plans were tipped off to Al Nusrah before our strike, it would have complicated the FSA’s relations with the US. Perhaps, in this case, it was best just not to know.

  • Eric Sykes says:

    That’s awesome work!

  • jean says:

    These reported airstrikes are underwhelming. The media is rushing to report buildings destroyed and vehicle- Hummv/tank engagements. As a Gulf War /OEF Vet, I have witnessed our combined airpower deployed against a variety of targets. Not to be a back day naysayer, but there is plenty of open source Intel about ISIS or whatever the hell it’s called. Once these clowns go to ground or start to blend with the population, it’s a bitch to dig them out. Ask the Vets from Helmand and Kunar, the local talent will ditch the weapons in irrigation canals and go drink tea. So my arm chair General advice is….hit everything that looks like a target. Restrictive ROE’s ( Tactical Directive) have not yet been issued.

  • DaveJ says:

    Underwhelming indeed. Apparently each target engaged is an airstrike. It sounds as if each F18, at least, is good for two “airstrikes”, perhaps more for other aircraft- or less. That’s not exactly a huge effort, two to four sorties a day, but rising.
    It sounds to me, at least, as if our intervention is more of a political show than a serious effort to destroy anything.


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