(Updates) U.S. Airstrikes Against ISIL Continue
Vice President Biden wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post yesterday expressing confidence that ISIS could be defeated without U.S. ground troops in Iraq.
Here are some excerpts:
These steps [to form a new Iraqi government] are meaningful because they show that Iraqis have begun to understand that they must rise above their differences. And that, when they do, they can succeed — not only in uniting the country but in defeating ISIL.
There is no negotiating with ISIL. We have seen its appalling murders of U.S. journalist James Foley and countless other innocent people, its cruelty and its fanaticism.
We are hopeful that the road map Iraq’s parliament endorses will sketch a vision for harnessing the resources of the state to benefit all communities and take the fight to ISIL.
We are also encouraging Iraq’s neighbors to refrain from fueling sectarian divisions, which only plays into ISIL’s hands, and instead to treat this shared challenge as an opportunity to begin a new chapter in their relations with Iraq and with each other.
Iraq’s security efforts, like its politics, must harness the energy and cooperation of all communities. This new spirit of cooperation was evident this week in northern Iraq, where Iraqi and Kurdish forces worked together to retake the Mosul dam from ISIL. Notwithstanding U.S. support, this operation could not have succeeded without cooperation between the Kurdish pesh merga and Iraqi security forces. This was the first joint operation of its kind, and we believe it is a model to build upon.
It will ultimately be up to the Iraqis to define their future under their own constitution, but we are encouraged that a serious debate about that future has begun. As Iraqis continue to make progress, we are prepared to further enhance our support for Iraq’s fight against ISIL — and will call on the international community to join Canada, Australia and our European allies in doing the same.
ISIL is far from invincible. Its ideology is rejected by most Iraqis. It establishes order not through consent but through fear. It has destroyed ancient religious sites, enslaved women and girls and brutally executed many of the very Sunnis it claims to speak for. ISIL has no legitimate cause or grievance to espouse. And as we saw at the Mosul dam, when its fighting strength is eroded, it can be routed by local forces without U.S. boots on the ground.
This is a fight that Iraq, with help from America and the world, can and must win…
This will be a long-term challenge. It is one that our partners around the world, with our support, have no choice but to take on and win — starting in Iraq.
Read the full op-ed here
Many have been saying — including here — that our operations against ISIL should be multinational and multi-faceted.
The U.S. military agree.
The Defense Department believes the best way to confront the threat presented by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists will require a regional, international, and interagency approach, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters today.
Part of the mission in thwarting ISIL now involves “supporting, advising, assisting, helping Iraqi security forces and Kurdish forces blunt the momentum,” Kirby said. “We believe we’ve succeeded in blunting that momentum. But it’s also about protecting U.S. personnel and facilities, including some of the airstrikes that we’re conducting inside Iraq.”
Kirby acknowledged that ISIL’s swift growth in capability stems from the group’s criminal activity resourcing, as well as donations, ransoms and the group’s sanctuary in Syria. He said the U.S. military should be one of many components in use to prevent ISIL from leveraging those resources.
“You’re not going to see the answer to all ISIL problems through a military lens,” Kirby said. “We are conducting operations inside Iraq against this group, in support of Iraqis and Kurdish forces, but we’re not going to be the only tool in the toolbox that can or should be used.”
Assessment teams will continue to monitor ISIL’s activities, Kirby said.
“It’s what led us to where we are today,” he said, “which is that we believe it does pose an imminent threat, and it’s a threat that we need to take seriously.”
In what the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, described as a battle against a terror group that has an “apocalyptic, end-of-days” vision that eventually must be defeated, U.S. air strikes continued as one of the “variety of instruments” at the disposal of our military and the United States.
As such, “U.S. military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in support of Iraqi security force operations, using fighter and attack aircraft to conduct three airstrikes in the vicinity of the Mosul Dam, according to a U.S. Central Command news release issued today.
“The strikes destroyed two ISIL armed vehicles and a machine gun emplacement that was firing on Iraqi forces. All aircraft exited the strike area safely.
“These strikes were conducted under authority to support Iraqi security forces and Kurdish defense force operations, as well as to protect critical infrastructure, U.S. personnel and facilities, and support humanitarian efforts.
“Since Aug. 8, Centcom has conducted a total of 93 airstrikes across Iraq. Of those 93 strikes, 60 have been in support of Iraqi forces near the Mosul Dam.”
Below are videos of two U.S. military targeted airstrikes conducted Aug. 18 against ISIL targets in the vicinity of the Mosul Dam.
The videos show an ISIL (Notice the waving ISIL flag) armored personnel carrier and a moving ISIL armed truck or “technical” being struck.
Caution: If you prefer not to see these cold-blooded murderers being targeted, do not click on the videos.