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Coalition creating organizational dysfunction among ISIS ranks

US Air Force official says the coalition has helped Iraq take back 50 percent of the land previously occupied by the terror outfit

Ehtesham Shahid

Published: Updated:

“We are creating a lot of organizational dysfunction in the ranks of Da’esh (ISIS) and we are achieving this through some very precise effects on the battlefield,” Lieutenant Colonel Christopher P. Karns, Director of Air Force Central Forces Public Affairs, US Air Force, has said.

In an exclusive interview to Al Arabiya English, Lt. Col. Karns said the coalition is working to shape the environment for the ground forces to be able to take the fight to places like Mosul and Raqqah.

“Some of the ways we are achieving our objectives, is in terms of making decision-making confusion in the minds of Da’esh; we are killing key leaders. At the same time, what we are looking to do is achieving strategic affects by going after the revenue stream and this is impacting Da’esh (ISIS) significantly,” he said adding that meaningful progress has been made in this fight.

Mosul offensive

When asked about the details of the Mosul offensive plan, he said: “I can’t give you specifics in terms of what it is going to look like but I can tell you how it is going to end. Da’esh (ISIS) is going to be defeated.”

Lt. Col. Karns said the coalition has conducted over 1,000 strikes in Mosul. “We have gone after the tools of terror in a very big way,” he said. According to Karns, the coalition has targeted improvised explosive devices, ISIS facilities, convoys, weapons caches and its leadership. “So I can’t tell you what we are going to do, but I can guarantee that it is going to end with a liberated Mosul,” he said.

The Red Crescent attack

On the recent Red Crescent convoy attack, he clarified that the air coalition doesn’t fly in Aleppo. “So, it was not the air coalition that conducted that strike. I won’t speak on behalf of other countries. However, there are three entities that fly in Syria – that’s the Syrians, the Russians and the air coalition. It wasn’t us. I won’t speculate on who it was,” Lt. Col. Karns said.

On missing targets

Lt. Col. Karns said that the US Air Force uses 99 percent precision-guided munitions and even if it goes wrong it is within 10 feet. “Usually it is pin-point, surgical, precision accuracy and we typically strike what we intend to strike,” he said.

However, he admitted that this is a complicated battle space. “I will give you a good example. So you look at Manbij where Da’esh fled. So what they are doing is using human shield. We decided not to strike in that instance because of the fact that we value human life,” he said.

Remotely-piloted aircraft

Lt. Col. Karns said there is a lot of misunderstanding in terms of remotely-piloted aircraft’s (RPA) capability. “One of the areas that is extremely helpful is in terms of the intelligence collection where we have a very good understanding of enemy activity and patterns of enemy activity. Remotely-piloted aircraft has that unblinking eye,” he said.

According to him, places like Mosul and Raqqah have been saturated with ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] capabilities and that the capability that RPA offers is critically important from the intelligence standpoint.

“When a remotely-piloted aircraft employs a weapon, it is a precision weapon and behind every mission, while there is not a human being in the cockpit, there is upwards of a 175 people who touch every RPA mission,” Lt. Col. Karns said.