Coalition aircraft continue to pound Islamic State positions in Raqqah

Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTFOIR), the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, has doubled down in hammering Islamic State military assets and infrastructure in and around Raqqah, the seat of its Syrian caliphate. US and allied aircraft have launched 52 strikes near Raqqah – more three times the number of attacks in Mosul over the past five days.

The targets of the strikes include tactical units, fighting positions, weapons systems such as machine guns, mortars, and car bombs (or VBIEDs), a command and control node, oil infrastructure, construction equipment, a bridge, and supply routes.

For the time being, Raqqah has become the most significant target in the air campaign in Iraq and Syria. Since Dec. 20, Raqqah has even eclipsed Mosul, the largest city under Islamic State control where Iraqi forces are battling to regain control of the city, as the primary focus of Coalition air power. For comparison, the US launched 20 airstrikes against the Islamic State in and around Mosul as opposed to 52 strikes in Raqaah from Dec. 28 to Jan. 1.

The significant shift of Coalition air assets from Mosul to Raqqah became noticeable on Dec. 20. Between that date and Dec. 27, CJTFOIR has launched 76 strikes in and around Raqqah, compared to 23 near Mosul. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Coalition intensifies air campaign against Islamic State stronghold in Raqqah.]

Strike data from CJTFOIR near Raqqah, from Dec. 28 to Jan. 1. Sources: CENTCOM/DoD

Dec. 28: Near Ar Raqqah, six strikes engaged five ISIL tactical units; destroyed a fighting position, a heavy machine gun, a mortar system, and a vehicle; and disabled a bridge.

Dec. 29: Near Ar Raqqah, two strikes engaged two ISIL tactical units; destroyed a command and control node, a weapons cache, and a fighting position.

Dec. 30: Near Ar Raqqah, 17 strikes engaged 14 ISIL tactical units; destroyed 12 fighting positions, three oil storage tanks, a VBIED, and an oil well head; damaged two supply routes; and suppressed a tactical unit.

Dec. 31: Near Ar Raqqah, 15 strikes engaged nine ISIL tactical units; destroyed four VBIEDs, eight fighting positions, two heavy machine guns, and a supply route; and damaged an ISIL tactical vehicle.

Jan. 1: Near Ar Raqqah, 12 strikes engaged five ISIL tactical units; destroyed six fighting positions, two oil storage tanks and an ISIL checkpoint; and damaged five supply routes, a bridge and a trench.

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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