Continued Airstrikes Show Lingering IS Presence in Syria, Iraq

US and coalition aircraft continued to strike Islamic State group targets in Iraq and Syria in November as US forces drew down in size, according to new statistics from Air Forces Central Command.

Last month, aircraft as part of Operation Inherent Resolve conducted 153 airstrikes, down from the previous month’s total of 166, for a total of 4,570 so far in 2019, according to figures AFCENT released Dec. 12. While the pace has dropped off from earlier in the year, the totals show kinetic air operations are continuing against IS long after the defeat of the physical caliphate.

So far this year, US and coalition aircraft have flown 12,217 intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance sorties, up from last year’s total of 7,782. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told lawmakers Dec. 11 the US must continue to conduct airstrikes and surveillance flights in order to prevent IS from fully resurging in the region.

Airstrikes in Afghanistan have slowed to the second-lowest monthly total, 519, of the year. So far this year there have been 6,727. This is the second-highest yearly total since at least 2009 following 2018’s tally of 7,362, according to publicly available AFCENT numbers.