US Airstrikes in Iraq and Syria Drop as ISIS Territory Shrinks

ISIS Losses Mean Fewer Cities to Bomb

Soaring US airstrikes in Iraq and Syria have been a common theme over the past year, with the escalation of the war against ISIS dominated by the use of air power against densely populated cities, with all the civilian casualties that implies.

That couldn’t last forever, though, and Pentagon officials say that they’ve gone from several thousand strikes a month to just 850 in the past month, representing the shrinking number of potential targets given ISIS’ shrinking territory.

Those US strikes, after all, were heavily focused on Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria. While ISIS forces are still active in the desert, they’re not the targets of opportunity they might be when there’s a whole city worth of potential buildings to blow up and claim they were ISIS headquarters.

Which isn’t to say the Pentagon is going to have a lot of idle time on its hands. Rather, the ongoing escalation in Afghanistan has seen a massive increase in strikes in that country, and many were wondering where this extra capacity was going to ultimately come from with so many planes committed to Iraq and Syria. The number of places the US wants to bomb, it seems, tends to remain roughly in line with their bombing capacity.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.