Anti-ISIS Airstrikes Hit ‘All Time High’ Under Mattis

(DOD photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr)

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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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The U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition released more bombs on ISIS in the month of August than any previous month in the nearly three-year battle, Air Force Times reports.

The uptick in airstrikes throughout the month of August coincides with the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces’ advance on ISIS’s capital of Raqqa, where it now controls more than half the city.

The previous all-time high came in June, as the U.S.-backed Iraqi Security Force’s retook the city of Mosul. In both cases, the U.S. is actively supporting both armies against the terrorist group from the air along with a small contingent of special operation forces.

The Raqqa operation is likely to continue for some time as remaining ISIS fighters dig in for a prolonged siege.

“This is still not over. It’s still going to be very difficult, but we’re making progress,” Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Army Col. Ryan Dillon told reporters on Sept. 4. Thousands of civilians remain inside the city and are frequently used by the terrorist group as human shields, stymying U.S. airstrikes.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis has overseen several all-time high bombing monthly records, coming into office during the most kinetic phases of the anti-ISIS mission.

Gains against ISIS have “dramatically accelerated” under the Trump administration, U.S. Special Envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition Brett McGurk noted in early August. McGurk noted that nearly a third of all gains against the terrorist group have come in the early months of the Trump administration.

Airstrikes also hit a five-year high in the Afghan war, where the previous comparable total came in 2012 when the U.S. had tens of thousands more troops in the country. The uptick likely coincides with loosened rules of engagement authorized by President Donald Trump along with dramatic gains by the Taliban insurgent movement against the Afghan National Security Forces.

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