Wednesday, June 29, 2016

US airstrikes annihilate ISIS convoy, killing 250 fighters near Fallujah.

The ISIS flag seen in Fallujah after the fall of the city. Reuters. 

US officials claim that the latest round of airstrikes in Iraq utterly destroyed a convoy of 40 ISIS vehicles and killed as many as 250 fighters. Reuters. The strike is the most deadly one conducted against ISIS if the casualty figures are correct, though the current numbers are just the preliminary estimates. The strikes took place south of the recently liberated city of Fallujah. Though ISIS has been pushed back in both Iraq and Syria, their capability to conduct terrorist attacks has not been reduced. ISIS is thought to be responsible for the massive terrorist attack in Istanbul, Turkey. Though ISIS has lost the battle of Fallujah and is being pushed hard in Manbij in Syria, they have also made advances against rebels in Syria. 

My Comment:
Interesting report out of Iraq. I wonder how true it is. It is very possible that the numbers are incorrect. My guess is that they have been inflated a bit because to my knowledge there weren't that many ISIS fighters left in the Fallujah area. If this report is true then they have been almost completely wiped out in the region. 

If it is true then it is a huge blow to ISIS. Losing 250 fighters is a decent percentage of their total number of troops and to lose them in one set of airstrikes is devastating. Losing those troops in an airstrike is worse then losing them in a traditional battle because in a traditional battle they probably would have taken a few of their enemies with them. In short, losing fighters this way is a complete waste for ISIS and a major victory for anti-ISIS forces.

Another factor is that ISIS didn't just lose fighters. They also lost a decent number of vehicles. The report says they lost 40 vehicles but did not say if those were civilian trucks and cars or if they were military vehicles like Humvees, APC's or perhaps even tanks. The loss of those vehicles is huge. Even the civilian vehicles can be used for car bombs and can be converted into machine gun armed technicals. The military vehicles can also be used for tougher car bombs and for their more traditional role as assault vehicles. 

Either way, all of those vehicles are irreplaceable, especially the military ones. ISIS has no way to replace vehicle losses because they have no vehicle production of their own. Everything they have they either recovered from the enemy or stole. Though they do have skill in making their own makeshift APC's but those are of much worse quality than the purpose built ones. And they require the same kind of civilian vehicles that ISIS lost in this raid.  

I am kind of confused what those ISIS fighters were doing south of Fallujah anyways. Were they they last survivors from Fallujah trying to evacuate? If so, then how were they able to escape the troops besieging the city? If not, what were they doing there? Was this a counterattack that was completely destroyed? If so, where on earth were they attacking from? The Iraqis have control of most of the territory between Fallujah and ISIS's main strongholds, so it would be a major embarrassment if they were able to attack all the way from Mosul. 

Either way, I don't think we are getting the whole story here. Either the Iraqis screwed up and let an entire convoy of ISIS fighters get away or Iraq's security in central Iraq is so poor that they couldn't stop a major ISIS attack from getting close to Fallujah. Though the convoy was utterly destroyed, why didn't the Iraqi's destroy before this point? 

Still, a victory against ISIS is a victory. This is going to hurt ISIS and hurt them bad, even if the circumstances around the strike seem a bit suspicious to me. Either they signaled a retreat and are now denied the troops and vehicles that made up this convoy or they launched an unwise and ill-fated counter attack that was completely blunted. 

Finally, it seems like the gloves are finally coming off against ISIS. It is ludicrous to me that this is the most damage that we have done against ISIS in a single series of airstrikes. There have to be more targets that we could target and destroy in ISIS held territory. Indeed, the twin capitals of ISIS, Mosul and Raqqa, could be largely leveled. 

But we are always fighting with one hand tied behind our backs. The US government has always been deeply concerned with civilian casualties. If there is a chance of bad headlines when destroying critical ISIS targets, the United States will leave those targets unmolested. It has greatly prolonged this war and my hope is that this strike is a sign of changing policies at the Pentagon.


  1. No lessons were learned from the Viet Nam War when politicians tried to run that war. They prolonged it then abandoned our "allies". Therefore, I see no way Washington politicians will change anything in handling this war. Donald Trump is the only one I see that has the guts to change our "War on Terrorism".

    1. Thanks for the comment! I agree. Our current leaders are so afraid of civilian casualties that they won't fight. That means the war will last a lot longer then it should...