Air strikes against ISIS have been in operation for over a year now (US air missions began in summer 2014), but what have they actually achieved? We see shots on the news of a building or missile station being bombed but do these actually have any affect on the actions of the group? Adam Brewer offers his views on the situation in Syria and Iraq.
The idea behind the bombing campaign against the group is to eliminate some of its key figures. People such as Jihadi John act as a link to the western world, and, on November 14, he was killed in Syria in a joint operation by US and UK forces. Another key figure killed in a similar strike was the leader of the group, identified after his death as Abu Nabil. Both these men and others like them should help to slow the group’s progress through places like Syria and degrade their ability to meet objectives, like recruiting new members and planning attacks.
Another reason behind the strikes is to slow and ultimately stop ISIS progress through Syria and Iraq. The group hold a large amount of territory in these countries, mainly in the north and west of the nations. The idea behind striking the positions that they do hold is to destroy weaponry they have, such as missiles, tanks and other armaments. This weakens their operations and although NATO and Russia don’t have troops on the ground, Russia at least provide funding for Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad’s, who fight the Syrian civil war against ISIS.
Not everything about the air strike missions has been positive though. Almost every time ISIS performs some sort of attack, they always point to the air strikes and refer to them as motivation for revenge. However, ISIS are a terrorist group, they would probably be performing these attacks with or without the air strikes.
ISIS presents a new kind of warfare, rarely seen on the world stage before. The group are not accessible via the water as they operate in a landlocked area, ground troops may well be discussed by world leaders but air attacks look set to be the best bet for the near future. The upcoming G20 summit looks set to provide a true picture of the next step in the fight, until then bombing raids look to be the best option.
A French Rafale Marine aircraft takes off (c) flickr.com/navcent