As part of Operation Tidal Wave II, the U.S. military dropped leaflets containing grave warnings to oil truck drivers in Islamic State territory 45 minutes before destroying almost half the truck fleet.
Here’s what the pamphlets said, according to a report from The Free Beacon.
“Get out of your trucks now and run away from them.”
Another pamphlet read, “Warning: airstrikes are coming. Oil trucks will be destroyed. Get away from your oil trucks immediately. Do not risk your life.”
The airstrikes took out 116 oil trucks, which put a sizeable dent in the 300-strong fleet. Concern over civilian casualties is the reason it took so long to assault a highly-valued source of revenue for ISIS, according to the Pentagon.
But the solution was simple enough, even though it took an unusually long time to implement: fly F-15s over the region and drop pamphlets warning drivers to abandon their trucks.
However, the A-10s and C-130s sent in for the strikes did not eliminate the entire fleet. Rather, the Pentagon maintains that the aircraft ran out of ammunition, and so were forced to return to base.
“In Al-Bukamal, we destroyed 116 tanker trucks, which we believe will reduce ISIL’s ability to transport its stolen oil products,” Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said. “This is our first strike against tanker trucks, and to minimize risks to civilians, we conducted a leaflet drop prior to the strike.”
Congress is suspicious about the Pentagon’s reasoning, especially given that U.S. pilots have told Congress that they’ve been thwarted by the chain of command and prohibited from dropping 75 percent of their payloads. Clearance to strike comes infrequently and as far as the pilots are concerned, seemingly endless delay has given ISIS room to expand.
While the Pentagon says it’s worried about civilian casualties and so is reticent to allow strikes at any given point, the Kremlin has accused the U.S. of allowing ISIS to continue largely unabated in the hopes that the group will bring down Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the U.S. is hoping to hit the sweet spot in the fight against ISIS.
“They want IS to weaken Assad as soon as possible to make him leave somehow, but at the same time they don’t want to overly strengthen IS, which may then seize power,” Lavrov said.
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