War on Terrorism

Friday, December 08, 2017

Military Strikes Continue Against ISIS Terrorists in Syria, Iraq

SOUTHWEST ASIA, Dec. 8, 2017 — U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, conducting 18 strikes consisting of 40 engagements against ISIS terrorists in Syria between Dec. 4 and yesterday, Combined Joint Task Force

Officials reported details of the most recent strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.

Strikes in Syria

Yesterday in Syria, coalition military forces conducted five strikes against ISIS targets near Abu Kamal, engaging four ISIS tactical units and destroying an ISIS headquarters, two fighting positions and an ISIS vehicle.

On Dec. 6, coalition military forces conducted four strikes against ISIS targets near Abu Kamal, engaging two ISIS tactical units and destroying three ISIS vehicles, 13 ISIS watercraft and two ISIS-held buildings.

On Dec. 5, coalition military forces conducted eight strikes against ISIS targets near Abu Kamal, engaging eight ISIS tactical units and destroying 17 ISIS watercraft, an improvised explosive device, an ISIS line of communication, an ISIS headquarters, a heavy weapon, an ISIS vehicle and an ISIS motorcycle.

On Dec. 4, coalition military forces conducted a strike against ISIS targets near Abu Kamal, engaging an ISIS tactical unit and destroying an ISIS fighting position.

Strikes in Iraq

There were no strikes reported in Iraq Dec. 4-7.

Part of Operation Inherent Resolve

These strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The destruction of ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria also further limits the group's ability to project terror and conduct external operations throughout the region and the rest of the world, task force officials said.

The list above contains all strikes conducted by fighter, attack, bomber, rotary-wing or remotely piloted aircraft; rocket-propelled artillery; and some ground-based tactical artillery when fired on planned targets, officials noted.

Ground-based artillery fired in counterfire or in fire support to maneuver roles is not classified as a strike, they added. A strike, as defined by the coalition, refers to one or more kinetic engagements that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single or cumulative effect.

For example, task force officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIS vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against a group of ISIS-held buildings and weapon systems in a compound, having the cumulative effect of making that facility harder or impossible to use. Strike assessments are based on initial reports and may be refined, officials said.

The task force does not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.

Airstrikes Kill 5 al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula Members in Yemen

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8, 2017 — U.S. airstrikes killed five al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula operatives in Yemen’s al-Bayda governorate Nov. 20, in an effort to disrupt the terrorist's attack networks, according to a U.S. Central Command news release issued today.

Mujahid al-Adani, an al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula Shabwah leader, was killed in the strikes, along with al-Bayda-based facilitator Abu Layth al-Sanaani and three terrorist network associates, the release said.

Planned, Conducted Terrorist Attacks

Al-Adani, also known as Mohammad Shukri, previously served as an al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula military leader in Aden and remained responsible for planning and conducting terrorist attacks against Yemeni and coalition forces. Al-Adani maintained a significant influence within al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula as well as close ties to other terrorist network senior leaders, according to the release.

The Shabwah offensive has forced al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula to consolidate within the northern and eastern portions of the Abyan and eastern al-Bayda governorates, respectively, the release said.

The removal of key al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula leaders and associates in this region, the release said, will further degrade the terrorist network's freedom of movement and operation, limiting their ability to challenge Yemeni security forces and coalition advances.

Top Policy Official: Military Not Only Solution to Terrorism in Africa

By Terri Moon Cronk DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7, 2017 — U.S.-led efforts in Africa are vitally important as African nations confront complex and growing threats from multiple terrorist groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, al-Qaida affiliates and other extremist groups such as Boko Haram, the acting undersecretary of defense for policy said today on Capitol Hill.

“These groups exploit instability, weak governance, vulnerable populations, social media and vast spaces to establish safe havens, spread their toxic ideology and attack all who do not subscribe to it,” David J. Trachtenberg said during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on counterterrorism efforts in Africa.

“While DoD maintains expert counterterrorism forces -- the best in the world, bar none -- capable of conducting precision air strikes and complex raids to protect our interests, we are focused principally on helping our partners build their own capabilities and expand their capacity to fight these terrorist organizations and stem further violence and instability,” he said.

Partnership Strength

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis has put significant emphasis on building and strengthening partnerships, Trachtenberg added, to both lessen the demand for U.S. forces and to ensure sustainable indigenous solutions to these problems.

“In the simplest terms, DoD seeks to work by, with and through our partners in Africa to find African solutions to African problems,” the undersecretary said. That means military operations against terrorist organizations are conducted by host nation force, and U.S. forces work with partner nations to train, equip, advise and enable and accompany them on operations and improve their effectiveness and professionalism, he noted. “And through this cooperative relationship, the United States and our partners in Africa achieve our shared strategic objectives.”

As the United States works to build partner capacity, he said, more than military effectiveness is at work. “[We] also place a high value on professionalization of our partners’ militaries, and specifically, to improving their adherence to norms for respecting human rights. In addition to bilateral partnerships, we also seek to work closely with regional organizations like the African Union and the G-5 Sahel Joint Task Force,” Trachtenberg said.

The United States partners with other nations, such as France, which has committed thousands of troops, to share burdens on the vast African continent, and important partner departments and agencies of the U.S. government, he said.

“There is no purely military solution to the terrorism threat in Africa, and DoD is committed to promoting whole-of-government solutions,” Trachtenberg told the committee.

“This requires that we leverage the full range of resources, talent and expertise to address these problems,” he said. “This is particularly true of our colleagues in the Department of State and [the U.S. Agency of International Development], and we are committed to working together with them to protect the United States our citizens and our interests in Africa.”

Niger Investigation

On behalf of DoD, Trachtenberg expressed the department’s deepest sympathies to the families of the soldiers killed in the Niger ambush Oct. 4, and said the investigation into the attack is proceeding with due diligence and care.

“As we have briefed you and other committees, the investigation is ongoing and we do not want to provide inaccurate or incomplete information,” he said. “We must therefore wait for the investigation to be completed by [U.S. Africa Command] before we can have the full picture of what happened. However, we will inform Congress on the conclusions of the investigation as soon as possible after the families are briefed.”