Air War Against The Islamic State Ramped Up In June


1The Air Force’s two-year-old bombing campaign against the Islamic State had its second-largest month ever in June, dropping 3,167 weapons, Air Force officials disclosed Tuesday.

It marks just the third time the Air Force has dropped more than 3,000 weapons in a single month in the campaign. The others occurred in November and December 2015 as U.S. forces supported a grueling effort to take back the Iraqi city of Ramadi from the militants.

The latest spike came as the coalition supported efforts to take back Fallujah in Iraq and Manbij in northern Syria. Notably, U.S. forces joined with the Iraqi military June 28 to destroy more than 500 vehicles that militants were suspected of using to flee Fallujah.

Those strikes came under scrutiny when it was disclosed a few days later that air support assigned to aid U.S.-backed Syrian rebels in the border town of Bukamal was shifted instead to take out the convoy leaving Fallujah. The rebels were forced to retreat under fire, and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter later called the operation in Syria a “missed opportunity,” while defending decisions made by U.S. commanders.

“We have a lot of air assets and a lot of partners who have air assets, but on any given day, they have to go to a certain place at a certain time,” Carter said after being asked whether the United States has enough aircraft to support operations in both Iraq and Syria. “But circumstances change.”

(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Dan Lamothe