First Published: 2017-11-21

Anti-IS coalition strikes drop to lowest number
Coalition spokesman says air strikes by US-led coalition against Islamic State group in Iraq, Syria have dropped significantly.
Middle East Online

BEIRUT - Air strikes by the US-led coalition against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria have dropped significantly, a spokesman said Tuesday, as the war against the jihadists winds down.

A single strike on November 8 "marked fewest strikes/munitions dropped" in the more than three-year-old campaign against IS, coalition spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon said on social media.

"Nearly all territory once controlled by ISIS retaken; 7.5 million people no longer under Daesh control," wrote Dillon, using alternative acronyms for IS.

Coalition aircraft have conducted dozens of strikes, which can each consist of multiple engagements, in November, a month that saw heavy fighting to dislodge IS from its last remaining bastions.

Syrian regime and allied forces this month retook the town of Albu Kamal, which lies on the border with Iraq, where anti-IS forces also retook Rawa, the last town the jihadists held in the country.

Nonetheless, major operations -- such as those that saw tens of thousands of troops battle for several months to retake Mosul, Iraq's second city, in July, and Raqa, the jihadists' main hub in Syria, last month -- are over.

At its peak, when coalition-backed forces were battling IS on multiple fronts across the "caliphate" IS proclaimed in July 2014, the daily count of air strikes could top 50.

Reflecting the decline in anti-IS operations, the coalition announced on Tuesday that it would only divulge the details of its strikes twice weekly instead of daily.

In August 2014, then US president Barack Obama sent warplanes to carry out strikes against IS when the jihadist group was massacring members of the Yazidi minority in the Sinjar region of northern Iraq.

A coalition was formed soon after with the support of around 60 nations, although only a handful such as Australia, Britain and France, played a significant military role.

The number of surviving, active IS fighters has dropped drastically to a few hundred in recent months, and holdout jihadists are now mostly confined to pockets in remote desert areas along the Iraq-Syria border.

Those areas need to be cleared before a definitive victory against IS on the ground can be claimed.

Observers have warned that the group will remain a potent force even after it loses its last fixed positions, as it continues to carry out and inspire deadly terror attacks in the region and beyond.

 

Pentagon skeptical about Russia's Syria pullout claims

Senior Saudi prince blasts Trump's "opportunistic" Jerusalem move

Kuwait ruler’s son named defence minister

EU accused of complicity in Libya migrant rights violations

Saudi Arabia lifts decades-long ban on cinemas

Israeli sentenced to four years for arson attack on church

Erdogan risks sabotaging fragile relations with Israel

6.2-magnitude earthquake strikes Iran

Two Gazans killed by Israeli ‘strike’, Israel denies claim

French FM accuses Iran of carving out ‘axis’ of influence

Somali journalist killed in front of children

Over 170 dead after South Sudan rival cattle herders clash

Russia begins partial withdrawal from Syria

Russia weary of returning IS jihadists before World Cup, election

EU says Syria war ‘ongoing’ despite Russia pullout

Istanbul nightclub gunman refuses to testify

Integrating Syrians in Turkey carries implications

US opinion views Muslims and Arabs more favourably but political affiliation makes a difference

Iranian conservative protesters say Trump hastening end of Israel

Jordan referred to UN for failing to arrest Sudanese president

Turkey demands life for journalists in coup bid trial

Netanyahu expects EU to follow suit on Jerusalem

Putin orders withdrawal of ‘significant’ amount of troops from Syria

Putin to meet with Sisi in Cairo

GCC at a critical juncture

Houthi rebels tighten grip on Sanaa after Saleh’s assassination

Israel’s Syrian air strikes risk renewing escalation as Iran expands presence in Golan

Qatar to acquire 24 Typhoon fighters from UK

Bahraini civil society group criticised after Israel visit

Israel PM faces renewed pressure in Europe

Palestinian stabs Israeli guard in ‘terrorist’ attack

UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed says US Jerusalem decision could help terrorists

Fateh encourages more protests, refuses to meet Pence

Chinese electric carmaker to open Morocco factory

Iraqi victory over IS remains fragile

Morocco’s renewed ties with South Africa likely to consolidate support for Western Sahara stance

Lebanese security forces fire tear gas at protestors

Syria’s justice system: ‘working without a written law'

Egypt revives controversial desert capital project

Iran sentences fugitive ex-bank chief to jail

Iraq announces 'end of the war against Daesh'

Israeli air strike kills 2 in Gaza

UK foreign minister in Iran to push for Briton's release

Turkey's Erdogan seeks to lead Muslim response on Jerusalem

Iraqi Christians celebrate in town retaken from IS