By Robert Tollast.
US and Coalition air strikes may be marginally increasing the area of terrain covered in the campaign so far, according to attack data released by the US Department of Defence in the past 24 hours.
Critics of the strikes note how they are few in number compared to comparable air campaigns against the Taliban or Gaddaffi’s forces.
Typically, strikes are focused on targets in and around Mosul, Baiji, Kirkuk and Tikrit. Targets in these areas are normally “harder” and frequently take the form of bunkers and buildings, such as bomb factories.
Fewer strikes hit in Anbar, and typically seem to focus on mobile ISIL units. The province is currently 8o% controlled by ISIL, and strikes tend to be close to units coordinating with the Coalition, such as the Iraqi Special Operations Forces.
Normally these strikes are further up the Euphrates river valley -less frequently, they are closer to Fallujah, on the approach to Baghdad.
In a small sign American involvement in combat may be widening, strikes hit an ISIL “rocket position” near Habbaniyah, possibly indicative of an ISIL attempt to target expanding US facilities at the former British air base.
Previously, most US strikes to defend US forces have focused on areas near Al Asad air base.
ISIL will likely prioritise targeting the gathering 450 new US advisers in the area, therefore, we may expect more strikes in this area. This presents a new danger, since there are pro govt. paramilitary forces nearby who may resemble ISIL units from the air.
(Source: US Department of Defence.)