US forces have launched 31 combat missions in Iraq and Syria during July, a drop from the previous month, according to an operations tally that US Central Command authorities update every month. But all of those missions last month, CENTCOM said, were with partner forces in the region. Overall, the pace of US operations slowed in Iraq in July while Syria operations increased.
No details on any of the missions were released.
In a CENTCOM release, the command said that its forces in northern Iraq and Syria carried out 31 operations in July, down from 44 in June, all of which involved “coalition and other partners.” Since January, CENTCOM has averaged more than one operation per day in the theater, carrying out 279 missions in seven months, according to tallies maintained by Task & Purpose.
Those operations, CENTCOM claims, have killed 81 people and taken 380 prisoners in 2023.
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The numbers are the latest round of figures that CENTCOM has taken to releasing monthly in so-called “Month In Review” press releases tallying up missions by its forces in Iraq and Syria. Released each month since at least January, the counts do not include details of those operations, what US units were involved, whether US troops were injured or even if the operations were boots-on-the-ground raids or stand-off attacks like drone strikes.
The counts also do not note what role non-US troops may have played in those operations.
The July missions, CENTCOM said, killed two people the release calls “ISIS operatives” in Iraq and 3 in Syria though CENTCOM does not define “ISIS operative” either generally or with specifics of the people killed.
Between the two countries, CENTCOM said, its operations arrested 30 people.
The July numbers show a drop in operations in Iraq, from 37 in June to 20 last month, but a spike of activity in Syrian, from 7 to 11 missions.
There were 2,500 U.S. troops stationed in Iraq and another 900 service members in Syria as recently as last winter as part to prevent ISIS from reestablishing a physical caliphate and mounting attacks on foreign soil.
President Donald Trump originally declared ISIS “defeated” in Syria in December 2018 before announcing a “rapid withdrawal” of U.S. troops, a decision that prompted then-Defense Secretary James Mattis to resign in protest over the apparent abandonment of the U.S. military’s Kurdish allies to Turkish aggression in the war-torn country.
“While the U.S. remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies,” Mattis wrote in his resignation letter at the time.
Nearly a year after his departure, following Trump’s second attempt to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria, Mattis had predicted that it was “absolutely a given” that ISIS would continue to wreak havoc in Iraq and Syria if the U.S. military didn’t maintain pressure on the terror group.
Since then, CENTCOM has released monthly updates on its operations there but only occasional details of individual missions, such as a “unilateral strike” in Syria in early April that killed Khalid ‘Aydd Ahmad al-Jabouri, whom military officials described as a senior leader with the Islamic State group.
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