US Central Command (CENTCOM) on Thursday released an end of the year report that said US troops carried out 313 missions in Iraq and Syria against ISIS, killing 686 suspected members of the terrorist group.
Breaking it down by country, the command said US troops participated in 108 partnered operations with the Kurdish-led SDF and 14 unilateral missions in Syria that killed 466 ISIS “operatives.” In Iraq, US troops took part in 191 partnered operations with Iraqi government forces, which killed 220 ISIS operatives.
The biggest battle took place at a prison in Al-Hasakah, Syria that holds thousands of ISIS fighters. Fighting ensued after an attempted prison breakout, and the US gave air support to SDF fighters on the ground.
According to CENTCOM, more than 420 suspected ISIS members and 120 SDF fighters were killed in the battle. Reports at the time of the battle said that ISIS had about 850 children held hostage in the prison, and at least two were killed as a result of the battle, but that wasn’t mentioned by CENTCOM.
A 17-year-old Australian boy who was in the prison at the time of the battle told Human Rights Watch that he estimated 15 to 20 children were killed. The boy said he was injured by a US Apache helicopter strike. CENTCOM offered no estimate of civilian casualties that were killed as a result of any of its operations.
In one US special forces raid in Syria against an ISIS leader in February, civilians were reported killed, which was confirmed by the Pentagon. Some reports said up to six children were killed and four women. President Biden said the raid was “successful” because it killed Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, who replaced Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as the leader of ISIS after he was killed in a similar raid in 2019.
Back in July, President Biden falsely claimed that US troops are no longer involved in combat operations in the Middle East. Ahead of his visit to Israel and Saudi Arabia, Biden said he would be “the first president to visit the Middle East since 9/11 without US troops engaged in a combat mission there.”
Besides US operations in Iraq and Syria, Biden told Congress that US troops are also deployed in Yemen to conduct operations against al-Qaeda. While not technically in the Middle East, Biden deployed additional troops to Somalia this year and has been ramping up the drone war against al-Shabaab.