War against ISIS rages in Iraq and Syria

There’s no letup in the fight against ISIS.
Jeff Schogol Avatar
FILE: Members of 5th Special Forces Group (A) conducting 50. Cal Weapons training during counter ISIS operations at Al Tanf Garrison in southern Syria on November 22, 2017. (U.S. Army/Staff Sgt. Jacob Connor)

Reports that the Global War on Terrorism is over are greatly exaggerated.

U.S. troops have conducted 308 missions against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria so far this year, including 36 missions in both countries during August, according to U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM.

As a result of those missions, 88 suspected ISIS fighters have been killed and another 405 detained, according to data provided by CENTCOM.

After a spike in anti-ISIS operations at the start of the year, the number of missions per month has hovered in the high 30s since March. Operations dipped slightly to 31 in July, but they returned to the monthly average in August.

Last month, U.S. troops carried out 28 partnered missions In Iraq, killing six suspected ISIS operatives and capturing another 18, CENTCOM announced on Friday. In Syria, American service members conducted eight partnered operations that led to one suspected ISIS fighter being killed and another seven being detained.

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ISIS lost the last territory it controlled in 2019 and has since gone underground as an insurgency. Even though most of the media has stopped paying attention, figures provided by CENTCOM show that the war against ISIS remains hot.

U.S. Army soldiers board a CH-47 Chinook helicopter while departing a remote combat outpost known as RLZ on May 25, 2021 near the Turkish border in northeastern Syria. (John Moore/Getty Images)

The pace of anti-ISIS missions is also accelerating. The U.S. military has already carried out roughly the same number of operations in Iraq and Syria as it did in all of 2022.

Last year, U.S. troops and their partners on the ground launched 313 operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, killing 686 suspected fighters – including the group’s former top leader – and capturing at least 435 more suspected operatives, CENTCOM announced in December.

Army Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, head of CENTCOM, underscored how difficult the fight against ISIS has been during a change of command ceremony last month that marked the end of Army Maj Gen. Matthew McFarlane’s tenure as head of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve.

Kurilla said that McFarlane had “Managed more risk on a day-to-day basis than any commander in the joint force around the world,” according to a CENTCOM news release.

The fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria is currently being led by Army Maj. Gen. Joel “JB” Vowell, who has also had to contend with infighting among America’s allies in Syria.

U.S. military officials have warned that this fighting could impede the war against ISIS.

“Distractions from this critical work does create instability and increases the risk of an ISIS resurgence,” Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters on Tuesday. “You’ve heard us call for all parties to cease fighting and to stay focused on the mission because, again, the only winner here is ISIS.”

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