A MEMBER of ISIS waves the group’s flag in Raqqa.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The coalition to defeat Islamic State ripped apart an ISIS command and control center with air strikes, killing an estimated 150 terrorists in one of the largest daily tolls for the group since the conflict began.
“The precision strikes were a culmination of extensive intelligence preparations to confirm the ISIS headquarters and command and control center in an exclusively ISIS-occupied location in the contested Middle Euphrates River Valley,” the US-led coalition Operation Inherent Resolve said. The air strikes took place Saturday in As-Shafah, Syria.
Although 98% of the land ISIS once occupied in Syria and Iraq has been liberated by the coalition, Kurdish and other allies and the governments of Iraq and Syria, there still remain pockets of ISIS control. One of these is a tiny finger of land in Syria near the Iraqi border.
“Syrian Democratic Forces on the ground, who continue to be engaged in heavy fighting against hard-core ISIS remnants’ attempts to regroup, assisted in target observation prior to the strikes.” The coalition says that intelligence ensured no “accidental engagement of nonmilitary personnel.” Translation: No civilians were killed.
The ISIS headquarters contained numerous ISIS fighters, the coalition says. They appeared to be massing for some kind of movement. The coalition has been working to train a stabilization force in eastern Syria that will eventually number in the thousands.
It is also continuing to train the Iraqi security forces to help them control the border and keep ISIS from regrouping.
The killing of 150 ISIS fighters in one day represents one of the largest body counts attributed to a single place during the threeand- a-half-year campaign. It should represent a major blow to the remnants of the organization, which has few fighters left at its disposal. However, the Popular Mobilization Units, a group of mostly Shi’a militias backed by Iran that operate in Iraq, have sent units to the Iraqi side of the border in the last few days to prevent ISIS infiltration of Iraq. This seems to signal a concern that the group still poses a threat.