Reports of ISIS's demise have been greatly exaggerated, according to airstrike data released by Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve on Friday.
- From Dec. 16 to Dec. 29, coalition aircraft conducted 469 airstrikes 'consisting of 1,001 engagements” against ISIS targets in Syria, according to a CJTF-OIR release published on Jan. 4.
- Those strikes “engaged 666 ISIS tactical units, and destroyed 291 fighting positions, 153 staging areas, 67 supply routes, 27 command and control nodes, 27 petroleum oil lubricant storage facilities, 25 vehicles, 14 tunnels, 14 weapons cache, 13 improvised explosive device facilities,” among other ISIS infrastructure.
- According to the latest summary of U.S. air power under OIR published on Oct. 31, those two weeks appear to capture the tail-end of a ramp-up in airstrikes, which rose from a record low of 241 weapons released in July 2018 to 876 in October 2018 after a steady decline from a record high of 5,075 weapons released in August 2017.
- This apparent uptick in strikes coincided with President Donald Trump's Dec. 19 declaration that “we have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency” as cause for the rapid U.S. withdrawal from the war-torn country.
- According to Pentagon data released as part of an August Inspector General report for Operation Inherent Resolve and Operation Pacific Eagle–Philippines, ISIS had an estimated 14,000 fighters in Syria remaining in Syria despite its ouster from its regional stronghold in Raqqa in October 2017.
- On Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham indicated that Trump's planned withdrawal was almost certainly not happening anymore. “He promised to destroy ISIS. He's going to keep that promise,” he said. “We're not there yet, but as I said today, we're inside the 10-yard line and the president understands the need to finish the job.”