President Trump has directed the U.S. military to rain Hell on ISIS in Iraq and Syria. According to officials from Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, during the two-week period between March 16 and March 29, U.S. and coalition forces launched 25 separate strikes against ISIS.
The fighting in Syria remains centered around Abu Kamal, a small town near the Syrian-Iraqi border. Coalition forces working as part of Operation Inherent Resolve reported destroying several ISIS targets, including buildings, tunnel systems, tactical units, fighting positions and weapons caches. In the same area, U.S. forces also destroyed an ISIS Vehicle Bourne Improvised Explosive Device factory.
An ISIS-held building in Al-Shadaddi, which was the site of a brutal battle between the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and ISIS in 2016, was also destroyed.
The fighting in Iraq remains dispersed over several parts of the country. There were several strikes near Hawijah, Qayyarah and Ramadi over the two week period. U.S. and coalition forces reportedly destroyed ISIS boats, tactical units, vehicles, storage facilities and an ISIS-held cave complex.
The U.S. Air Force may soon play less of a roll in the fight in Iraq. During a press briefing earlier this week, Air Force Brig. Gen. Andrew A. Croft gave details of the new training program being introduced to Iraqi Air Force pilots.
The program, known as CAATTS (Coalition Aviation Advisory and Training Team), is focused on teaching leadership skills to qualified Iraqi pilots, so that they may begin to lead their own missions in support of Iraqi Security Forces.
“Coalition air power in support of Iraqi Security Forces has been extremely successful in the destruction of ISIS in Iraq,” Croft said.
The program may one day see the Iraqi Air Forces sholdering the majority of the burden in Iraq, but for now, Croft gave no specific time table on when that might be. According to Croft, there are only 20 to 25 qualified F-16 pilots in the Iraqi Air Force.
While officials from Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve will not release the names and details of the actual units involved in the strike, they did confirm that both U.S. and coalition aircraft, including fighter, bomber and rotor-wing, were all used.