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As ISIL Forces Mass Around Kobani, Airstrikes Increase

Resupply airdrops of weapons, ammunition, medicine to Kurdish forces

As Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) forces continued to attempt to capture Kobani, Syria, over the weekend, U.S. and partner nation airstrikes ramped up and U.S. aircraft dropped supplies to besieged Kurdish forces defending the town, according to CENTCOM releases.

U.S. and partner nation fighter, bomber, and remotely piloted aircraft carried out a flurry of airstrikes as part of Operation Inherent Resolve before the weekend.

On Oct. 19, U.S. military forces conducted multiple airdrops near Kobani under cover of darkness to resupply Kurdish forces on the ground defending the city, U.S. Central Command officials reported.

U.S. aircraft carried out seven airstrikes Oct. 16 and 17. Six of them took place near Kobani, striking three ISIL buildings and five ISIL fighting positions, and destroying two ISIL vehicles.

AWACS

U.S. Air Force E-3B Sentry airborne warning and control system (AWACS) crew members conduct a mission in support of airstrikes against ISIL targets over northeastern Iraq, Oct. 2, 2014. The AWACS have been a part of the recent missions taking place in Iraq and Syria, controlling coalition aircraft to assist in eliminating ISIL targets. U.S. Air Forces Central photo

Another airstrike near Shadadi successfully struck ISIL oil collection equipment consisting of several petroleum, oil and lubricant storage tanks and a pump station, part of the terrorist group’s oil producing, processing and transportation infrastructure. The strike was intended to destroy a portion of ISIL’s ability to operate oil tanker trucks at oil collection points, according to CENTCOM.

“ISIL derives significant revenue from oil production, and so by striking these types of facilities, we reduce their ability to generate the funds and the fuel required to sustain their operations,” CENTCOM Commander Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III said in a press briefing. “And we are having the desired effects.

“Now, my goal is to defeat and ultimately destroy ISIL,” Austin told reporters. “And if he continues to present us with major targets, as he has done in the Kobani area, then clearly, we’ll service those targets, and we’ve done so very, very effectively here of late, as you’ve mentioned. But again, the more we attrite him in Kobani, the less ability he has to reinforce efforts in other places.”

“We’re seeing evidence of this not only in our battle damage assessments, but more important, we’re noting changes in the enemy’s behavior and tactics that reflect his diminished capability and restricted — restricted freedom of movement. For example, we’re no longer seeing them move around the country in large convoys. Now they’re mostly traveling in civilian vehicles in smaller numbers. This is hindering their ability to mass and to shift combat power,” he said.

In Iraq, partner-nation aircraft carried out two airstrikes; one west of Bayji, where initial reports indicated destruction of an ISIL artillery piece and an ISIL ammunition storage area; and another northeast of Bayji, which struck a small ISIL unit and damaged an ISIL vehicle.

 

Resupply by Air

On Oct. 19, U.S. military forces conducted multiple airdrops near Kobani under cover of darkness to resupply Kurdish forces on the ground defending the city, U.S. Central Command officials reported.

U.S. Air Force C-130 aircraft dropped weapons, ammunition, and medical supplies to Kobani’s defenders, supporting continued resistance against ISIL’s attempts to take the city. The supplies were provided by Kurdish authorities in Iraq, and officials added that all aircraft safely left the airdrop zone. While airdrops for refugees and friendly forces had been carried out before, most recently near Bayji earlier this month, this air drop for the first time included weapons and ammunition.

airdrop

A U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules pilot scans over central Iraq as the sun rises and his crew returns to base after conducting an operational resupply airdrop mission over Bayji, Iraq, Oct. 10, 2014. A more recent airdrop over Kobani included weapons and ammunition. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Bruch

 

Airstrikes Accelerate

ISIL forces must mass to take the city, and in response U.S. forces have conducted more than 135 airstrikes against ISIL in Kobani to date.

“Now, my goal is to defeat and ultimately destroy ISIL,” Austin told reporters. “And if he continues to present us with major targets, as he has done in the Kobani area, then clearly, we’ll service those targets, and we’ve done so very, very effectively here of late, as you’ve mentioned. But again, the more we attrite him in Kobani, the less ability he has to reinforce efforts in other places.

“And again, I believe that he made a decision several days ago that Kobani was going to be his main effort. And as long as he pours legions of forces there into that area, we’ll stay focused on taking him out.”

Combined with continued resistance to ISIL on the ground, indications are that recent airstrikes have slowed ISIL advances into the city, killed hundreds of the terrorist group’s fighters and destroyed or damaged scores of pieces of combat equipment and fighting positions, according to CENTCOM releases.

However, officials noted, the security situation in Kobani remains fragile, and the city still could fall.

U.S. military forces working with Iraqi ground forces also conducted six airstrikes against ISIL targets in Iraq yesterday and today, according to CENTCOM. Two airstrikes struck a large ISIL unit and destroyed three ISIL vehicles southeast of Fallujah. Three more airstrikes south of the Bayji oil refinery struck a small ISIL unit, destroyed an ISIL building and three ISIL vehicles, and damaged another ISIL building. Another airstrike south of Bayji destroyed four ISIL boats and damaged at least four more.

In Syria, six airstrikes near Kobani destroyed ISIL fighting and mortar positions, an ISIL vehicle, and a stray resupply bundle from a U.S. airdrop of Kurdish supplies to prevent these supplies from falling into enemy hands.