The US-led coalition battling the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) has dramatically intensified its air war against the militant group with strikes pummeling the group's de-facto capital of Raqqa, Syria.
Since Wednesday, the coalition has conducted aerial strikes against more than 70 ISIS targets. One airstrike was responsible for bombing 20 ISIS staging areas around Raqqa, according to Brett McGurk, the US deputy special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS.
In addition to the strikes around Raqqa, the US-led coalition also destroyed ISIS fighting positions and tactical units in Tal Abyad, Kobani, Aleppo, and Al Bukamal in Syria, according to a press release from the coalition.
The latter sites in Syria have been the location of fierce fighting between US-backed Kurdish YPG forces and ISIS. Since the US began providing aerial support to the Kurds, the YPG has steadily eaten away at ISIS territory in northern Syria. At the height of its push, the YPG advanced to within 30 miles of Raqqa.
(Institute for the Study of War)
In addition to the strikes in Syria, the US-led coalition carried out 14 airstrikes against 11 targets in Iraq. The strikes in Iraq destroyed heavy machinery, tactical positions, bunkers, and staging areas across much of the north and the west of the country.
"The coalition is committed to diminishing Daesh's military capacity," Brig. Gen. Kevin Killea, the chief of staff for the combined joint task force, said in a statement, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS. "Our disciplined targeting process and strike execution remain relentless in seeking out and prosecuting Daesh targets."
The sudden ramp-up in airstrikes comes as President Barack Obama recently promised to escalate attacks against the militant group. The bombing runs against Raqqa were the most intense against ISIS since operations began last August, ABC managing editor Jon Williams said.
"Indeed, we're intensifying our efforts against ISIL's base in Syria," Obama said Tuesday during remarks at the Pentagon. "Our airstrikes will continue to target the oil and gas facilities that fund so much of their operations. We're going after the ISIL leadership and infrastructure in Syria — the heart of ISIL that pumps funds and propaganda to people around the world."
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