US Marine Corps Capt. Jose Uriarte, a spokesperson for the Combined Joint Task Force–Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), told Military Times on Wednesday the US and its allies carried out 34,917 airstrikes against Daesh between August 2014 and September 2020.
According to US Air Force data, the majority of those strikes took place under the administration of US President Barack Obama, with 23,740 airstrikes occurring from 2014 through 2016.
While the Wednesday statement did not include civilian casualty estimates, the Pentagon reported last year, when there had been a thousand fewer strikes, that some 1,257 civilians had been killed by the airstrikes.
The air campaign was just one part of a massive effort involving the air and ground forces of several countries, including Iraq, Iran, Syria and Russia, as well as the militias of Kurdish forces and Hezbollah, to roll back the sprawling empire Daesh forces crafted out of the chaos of the Syrian Civil War - ironically, with help from the US and some of its allies, such as Saudi Arabia.
Washington has carried out airstrikes against Daesh in other countries as well, including Libya, but it’s unclear if they were included in the tally given by CJTF-OIR.
As early as February of 2019, US President Donald Trump had begun declaring victory, boasting the US “took over 100%” of Daesh’s territory. However, the claim was immediately refuted by US military leaders, and the operations continue, but on a much smaller scale.
“Despite the territorial defeat of ISIS [Daesh], the degradation of its leadership, and the widespread refutation of its ideology, this violent Islamist extremist group still poses a threat,” Uriarte said.
In September, when the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz arrived in the Middle East, part of its mission included new airstrikes in Iraq. However, the warship’s main purpose is to take over as chief intimidator of Iran. Iraqi security forces have also recently launched ground operations aimed at killing or capturing Daesh militants, with one operation in Diyala Governorate concluding on Sunday.