No immediate increase in Syria anti-ISIS campaign

A U.S. F-16 Fighting Falcon takes off from Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, to launch airstrikes against ISIS. (File photo: AP)

The U.S.-led coalition attacking ISIS militants showed no immediate sign of increasing strikes in Syria, figures released on Wednesday showed, even though the Pentagon chief has said America would intensify its campaign.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Tuesday said the coalition would conduct extra bombing runs against ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria, but only two strikes have been conducted in Syria the last six days.

The diminished tempo comes as Russia finishes the first month of its own Syria bombing campaign, and observers have suggested the U.S.-led coalition is worried about flying close to areas of Russian action.

The Pentagon has repeatedly denied this.

“It has nothing to do with the Russians, nothing whatsoever,” coalition spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said. “There has been a reduction in strikes, but it’s tied to operations. ... It’s really more about the ebb and flow of battle.”

As of Wednesday, coalition aircraft had carried out a total of 2,680 air strikes in Syria. The campaign started in June last year, and has also unleashed 7,712 strikes in Iraq.

Pentagon figures show the coalition launched 359 air strikes in July. The number dropped to 206 in August, then just 115 in September.

There have only been 92 this month; the most recent two of these were against relatively low-value targets: an ISIS vehicle and two mortars.

Carter said the coalition would support additional ground raids and air strikes, and focus on supporting rebels in Raqqa.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:45 - GMT 06:45
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