General Question

SquirrelEStuff's avatar

What has been the point of over 6,000 US air strikes in Syria?

Asked by SquirrelEStuff (9178points) December 17th, 2016

According to, the US and coalition forces have launched over 6,000 air strikes in Syria.
With all that has been in the news about Syria recently, what has been the purpose of over 6,000 air strikes in Syria if it only seems to be getting worse?

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57 Answers

Sneki95's avatar

“Peace” and “freedom”.

kritiper's avatar

Destroy ISIS wherever possible.

flutherother's avatar

The strikes in Syria have helped ensure Assad remains in power which is not what the US wants. The US military claims it has killed 50,000 in these airstrikes. Who are these multitudes of dead?

SecondHandStoke's avatar

My father’s company charged handsomely for the telemetry technology the military used.

They are hopefully getting their money’s worth.

ragingloli's avatar

Money for the military industrial complex.
Death Merchants need new Yachts.

si3tech's avatar

@SquirrelEStuff Diversionary tactic.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Increased funds for the pentagon. Gave lower ranking military guys a chance to move up.

Consider the parallels between Vietnam war (which the US lost) and the Syria debacle. The only winners are the pentagon and the companies that manufacture armaments.

rojo's avatar

Because if we can get to 7000 strikes we get 20,000 bonus air miles.

yeah, I know it will get modded but wtf

but, on the serious side, once a political decision is made to do things a certain way it is damned near impossible to make changes. I think this is also a failing of the upper echelon of the military so in this case it is doubly hard to change or reverse course.
Our government made the decision that the way to help out the opposition was through air power and air power alone, no “boots on the ground”. This has pretty much been our strategy for the last 25 years or so. It has not worked yet but we cannot seem to come up with a different solution.

flutherother's avatar

@elbanditoroso and the military has started counting bodies again – a sure sign they aren’t winning.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Target practice? For attacking Russia?

janbb's avatar

It did work some in the Serbia-Croatia war as I recall. I don’t know enough to hazard a guess as to what it accomplished. I don’t think doing nothing was an option and nobody would accept boots on the ground so I don’t know what our options were.

rojo's avatar

How about stay out of other peoples problems? ^^^

janbb's avatar

@rojo And that worked so well during the Holocaust? I go back and forth since I consider myself a pacifist but I also don’t like seeing babies bombed. I think there are crises where the world has to intervene – whether militarily or not is a different and very valid issue.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

The US military claims it has killed 50,000 in these airstrikes

When did anybody claim that?

flutherother's avatar

The figure of 50,000 dead was quoted recently by the BBC

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Probably using old military weapons before they expire. I believe that a missile can cost up to 1 million dollars each. Also war is good for arms race business. Seeing that USA and Russia sell second hand crap military supplies to the world.

Cruiser's avatar

It is being done to make Russia Great Again.

rojo's avatar

@janbb we did not get into WWII because of the holocaust nor did we do anything specific to stop it.

blackbeard's avatar

Its all about the money.

janbb's avatar

@rojo That was exactly my point!

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Here’s the strategy laid out by the administration.

The New Yorker – December 12, 2016 – On November 18th…the top priority, [Secretary of Defense Ashton] Carter said, will be finishing off the Islamic State. (The next four: containing Iranian influence, deterring North Korea, preventing Russian aggression in Europe, and encouraging stability in the Asian Pacific, in that order.)

U.S. policy is basically to eliminate all jihadis. “We will kill as many ISIL as we can in the Mosul and Raqqa battles,” Carter told me, using another term for the Islamic State. “If they try to get out of town, we’ll try to kill them. If they go somewhere else, then we’ll continue to destroy them. So they may fight to the death, and they may try to survive, but we’ll be after them in either case.”...

…“We’re going to destroy the idea that there is an Islamic State,” Carter said. “They’ll see that, before their eyes, it’s not a place for foreign fighters, because there’s no place to go. There’ll be no training there. There’ll be no welcome there. And that magnetism that two years ago brought many foreign fighters—there’ll be no magnet left.”

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

One thing those six thousand, very expensive air strikes are doing is supporting the American defense industry Eisenhower warned us about to the tune of $680 billion tax payer dollars for a $13.2 billion industry profit in 2011 alone, and pays the salaries and hourly wages for over 3.1 million American defense industry employees, both military and civilian.

$680 billion is more than the individual GDPs of

—and 146 other countries

Hey, we’re rich motherfuckers.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

The number is over 16,000. Not 6,000 airstrikes.

Personally I am happy to see religious fundamentalists defeated. I wish we could do more within the the US.

US Dept of Defense – As of 6:45 a.m. EST Dec. 15, 2016, the U.S. and coalition have conducted a total of 16,806 strikes (10,678 Iraq / 6,128 Syria).

U.S. has conducted 13,058 strikes in Iraq and Syria (7,248 Iraq / 5,810 Syria)

Rest of Coalition has conducted 3,748 strikes in Iraq and Syria (3,430 Iraq / 318 Syria)

flutherother's avatar

@Call Me Jay Isn’t wanting to kill religious fundamentalists just another type of fundamentalism?

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Don’t put words in my mouth. I didn’t say kill.

And I oppose fundamentalists for their actions, not their beliefs.

Fundamentalists in the Middle East and “Christian” fundamentalists in the US are on the same team, trying to drag us back into the Dark Ages.

If they want to pray and worship in private, as their holy books say, I don’t care.

flutherother's avatar

But that’s what airstrikes do and they are far from being an enlightened way of dealing with phenomena such as ISIS. Perhaps there is no other way but we shouldn’t be happy about it. That would lead us back to the Dark Ages.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Feel free to share your enlightened way.

For example, as Yazidis were being slaughtered and raped, what would be the enlightened way to deal with the slaughterers and rapists?

When young men from the region and elsewhere flock in to join in the beheadings and subjugation of women, what is the enlightened response?

Zaku's avatar

@Call_Me_Jay The people who do violence for ISIL tend not to be doing it because they are fundamentalists, but because of more mundane incentives.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

It’s ISIS, not ISIL, no matter what your newspapers and authorities call it. ISIS has gone far beyond the Levant and it definitely is a state of mind, if nothing else.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

@Zaku What are the mundane incentives that draw people from Belgium and Chechnya to Syria?

Pandora's avatar

What is the point in the killing of millions of innocent people in unnecessary wars over the years?
There is always a war for this reason or that reason. But anyone who is sensible knows that man should just learn to get along and work together and compromise for a better world.

But that will never happen.
There are 4 things that will always guide war. Greed, religion, envy and ego.

rojo's avatar

There is usually a reason @Pandora and that reason usually has something to do with someones bottom line. Which is another reason to be afraid of the Trump administration. He alone has so many holdings that I imagine just about anything will affect his bottom line in some way and the same goes for his cabinet members. The almighty dollar must prevail.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

The question is about 6,000 coalition airstrikes in Syria.

Officially, the US-led coalition forces in Syria are designated the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR). This helps immensely when researching coalition actions specific to Syria.

@Call_Me_Jay Read the DOD report that you submitted again. It says that, as of 6:45 a.m. EST Dec. 15, 2016, there have been a TOTAL of 16,806 (American led) coalition forces airstrikes.

10,678 in Iraq
6,128 in Syria

The figure in the question is in the ballpark.

Airwars dot com (about) reports that, as of this afternoon, December 17th, there have been 13 additional airstrikes in Syria, bringing the total confirmed coalition airstrikes to 6,137, which differs from DOD numbers by -4.

Airwars also reports that, of the 6,137 coalition airstrikes in Syria so far, 67.9% of the missions have been conducted by US pilots in US aircraft (down from 95% in December, 2015), 318 strikes were conducted by coalition air forces in both US and coalition aircraft since Operation Inherent Resolve began on 15 June 2014. US-led coalition air operations began in August, 2014.

However, the term “airstrike” is imprecise. An airstrike often involves multiple targets, often many miles apart.

The coalition air forces conducting airstrikes in Syria include:
Saudi Arabia

Countries giving technical and material support to coalition airstrikes

Non-coalition air forces conducting airstrikes in Syria
as well as fighter-bomber aircraft in the possession of the Khorasan group in the Idlib Governate to the west of Aleppo, and the al-Nusra Front around Ar-Raqqah, as part of the Military intervention against ISIS.

The skies over Syria are crowded with belligerent air forces, not all friendlies to each other and are often on conflicting missions.

Here is a list of all belligerents on the ground and in the air in Syria. The place is a mess.

stanleybmanly's avatar

As with the drones, tactical air strikes are an option that costs the U.S a minimum of combat casualties, the kryptonite to political ambitions.

JLeslie's avatar

The whole thing seems so impossible to me. I’m with @janbb that I think about the Holocaust. The US would have let the Jews and others die, except for finally the US felt threatened itself.

President Clinton regrets not helping more in Rwanda. People were slaughtered.

Do we interfere in other countries to save people from genocide? I usually come down on the side of yes, but it’s tricky, because since WWII, where we won, we have screwed up most war/peace efforts.

ISIS is after us. So, it’s not just fighting in someone else’s war. Although, one could argue our past interference in the Middle East, and the perception of not coming through on promises, makes us a target that maybe we would not have been.

It seems almost impossible the situation over there. It’s so complicated.

I was bothered we brought down Sadam Hussein. He was genicidal, but he also was fairly secular, women were educated, wore western clothes, etc. want to change the Middle East? I think the only chance is if women gain more power there, and along with that if theocratic governments disappear. Good luck.

Probably, if we do nothing, horrible things will happen and if we try to do something horrible things happen.

Regarding the “war machine.” The money and friends taints everything. It was a huge problem having an oil president (Bush) with his VP in deep with Haliburton (Cheney). Trump actually criticized them for their relationships and behavior dealing with 9/11 and Iraq back at the time of the events. I know the pressdug up clips of Trump being ok with the war, but I saw him in interviews being very critical of Bush letting his Saudi friends out of the country after 9/11 and other details that were happening at the time. Now, there will probably be a lot of irony watching Trump do whatever he is going to do. I’d like to think Obama doesn’t do it for money interests, but who knows. War is a business.

I think the drone strikes are an effort to disable ISIS. It could easily backfire. It’s horrifying to think about so many people dying and entire cities being turn into rubble.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Another thing that these airstrikes are doing is crimping ISIS sources of income by destroying the infrastructure of the oil fields they have commandeered in the last three years. Many of the Coalition airstrikes in Syria (designated CJTF-OIR) are focused on the highways in eastern Syria that run from Mosul in northern Iraq into the ISIS-controlled Bekaa Valley across the border in eastern Syria. These highways are used to transport ISIS oil from both the Mosul oil fields and the ISIS-controlled Bekaa Valley to European markets, converted into cash that fund arms and operations in places in the Levant and Europe.

Now that ISIS is losing the battle for Mosul, thousands of their troops are attempting to escape into ISIS-controlled eastern Syria rather than surrender and because of this, the areas that these highways run through are continuously targeted.

The CJTF-Iraq coalition air forces on the other side of the border in northern Iraq are assisting the 95,000 troops of the Iraqi government, Peshmerga and Kurdish ground forces in the re-taking of the city of Mosul and the surrounding Mosul oil fields.

There are many villages and cities on these highways and oil fields presently in ISIS possession, especially in the agriculturally-rich Bekaa Valley and it cannot be denied that many civilians are killed and maimed in these operations.

It is extremely interesting that the American people get very little news on the recent massive escalation of operations against ISIS, especially since they’re armed forces are taking such a large part in this at great taxpayer expense, and also leading the coalition forces, but almost everyone else in the world seems to know what is happening in Syria and Iraq on a daily basis.

janbb's avatar

We’ve had our heads up our own tushes for months with this awful, awful election and have not been paying much attention to anything else.

I am doing what I can to support an organization that is helping to evacuate Syrian refugees and bring them to safe houses.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Penguin, I don’t want to continue to bore people here with another long piece, but your statement incurs more questions about how the US news media has covered world news over the past year.

I believe what you say above to be true, but I also believe the lack of reporting important world events during this time to be the fault of your news media. I wasn’t knocking the American people, this time. I was knocking what appears to be, from outside the US, to be a very homogeneous American news media purposely denying news to the American public.

I was monitoring US news channels through my ROKU box toward the last part of the election cycle. There was a lot of sensational Trump time due to his outrageous behaviour, but after his nomination, it became Trump 24/7—Trump TV. On every single news channel. During this period many very important things were going on in the world.

Europe’s reaction to the north African refugees, after years of mass migration from the south, had caused many of their citizens to vote in policies and policy makers that were decidedly far right. The Brexit thing seemed to me to get less airtime than 5 cops shot by snipers in Dallas when Brexit has a much greater impact, immediately and potentially on the world and the US. It was also a symptom of a greater pathological political syndrome happening right now in Europe.

And after years of seemingly sitting on our Coalition asses, the massive joint operations to finally get ISIS where they live, the Russian and CJTF air strikes in Syria to take back Aleppo and the Bekaa Valley, to take back the Mosul oil fields north of Baghdad, finally got under way in earnest. This got almost nothing on the American 24/7 news cycles. Instead, they ran loops of Trump activities that occurred earlier that given day when there was no new Trump news coming in. The man has to sleep sometime. They had the air time, they had the info. They could have run it. I don’t understand why the American public wasn’t getting any news on this.

And now, after the election has been settled, now that is a done deal that Trump will be our president for the next 4 years and his behaviour isn’t nearly as outrageous, it is still Trump TV day and night. I’m not much for conspiracy theories, but this makes it very tempting to latch onto one.

After the Paris bombings, this site was alive with questions about ISIS. On one or two threads LuckyGuy and others and I here began to discuss standard military operating procedure to destroy a liquid, hidden enemy force as a strategy to anhilliate ISIS.

We all agreed that the most important element of the SOP was to destroy their logistics, their lines of supply, their source of funding and we were wondering what that could be and why wasn’t there any news on ops to do this, from the level of European and International police to military strikes in Iraq and Syria. Why did it seem like nobody was doing anything?

The intelligence to do so had been around for quite some time. Hell, ISIS even publishes their rough plans and results of their recent ops in their online magazine, Dabiq in English for all to see. Even the back issues are made available through the Clarion Project where they brag and justify raping of underage females and converting them into sex toys for their soldiers, why they burn people alive, why they drown them and castrate them publicly, why they behead infidels. Complete with photos of perps and victims. You may not want to view earlier issues.

After the Paris bombings of Friday 13, 2015, and the simultaneous wave of terror in western Europe, Operation Inherent Resolve, the coalition airstrikes program which had been in effect in Syria since August, 2014, went into high gear. Little of the Coalitions specific goals was reported in the US and what was reported didn’t adequately explain the direct connection of the increased missions to the wave of terror in Europe. It had become obvious that world leadership from the Far East including China, to Russia, to the Middle East, to Europe, to the United States, had finally had enough and began a concerted effort to destroy ISIS through intelligence sharing to actual material support.

Then, early this month—December, 2016—with American air and ground advisory support and years of training, Iraqi government forces decided they were finally ready to take back the oil fields of Mosul, to deny ISIS their life blood.

But this barely got a mention in the US news media. They had the airtime while Trump was sleeping, but chose to run loops instead.

Most Americans, those who were reminded of Paris after the Nice attack in July of this year, were still left wondering why nothing was being done about ISIS? When most of the world with a free press knew exactly what was going on to loud applause, although there were many reports of civilian casualties in Syria and Iraq. And once again the US were both the good and bad guys in this, but overall, they had had enough.

The result for many Americans is a feeling of overwhelming hopelessness, I believe, rooted in a belief that world leadership talks the talk, but won’t walk the walk about many things that victimize people who just want to work and raise their families without a background of fear and loathing. This is due to being denied news.

It is well known that Americans, like almost everyone else now, get the lion’s share of their news from the TV, or online sources from the same TV news agencies. How much more news is being denied the American public by their mainstream media? And why? And why by every single mainstream media TV outlet?

JLeslie's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus My perception is the US TV media outlets all just basically repeating what is being said by each other. I’m not sure how many talking heads on TV I really count as journalists, I see a lot of them as just actors reading a script, and the scripts aren’t necessarily written by very knowledgeable week read people. I think you have to seek out news articles, print, to get any real, current, informed, balanced, information, and that means sifting through garbage news at that.

It’s no secret that I don’t read much, it’s why I often start posts about history and the Middle East with, “it’s my worst subject,” or that, “I’m sorely ignorant on a lot that has to do with these topics.”

I work for a media company. We have reporters all over Europe and Asia, including the Middle East, and I feel we are able to give a more balanced view, and other companies similar to us.

janbb's avatar

I don’t watch any TV news; read the Times when I can stomach it; listen to NPR (ditto) and BBC World News Hour which does give more international news.

JLeslie's avatar

Here’s the link to my company ARA Network. I generally refrain from jellies promoting a business, but in case anyone is interested. Our website isn’t really a driver for us. It just starts you off on a story and then gives the link to the outlet that published it. The outlets that utilize our services most are Al Jazeera, Washington Times, USA Today, Al Fanar, Newsweek, IBT Times UK, some German outlets (articles in English) and some others.

Our website is sometimes a few days behind the story actually being published, because we have a lot of part-timers working our website.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

@JLeslie cool job!

I think very few people understand that the news starts with reporters on site around the world – all the blogs and TV blab that people think is news is actually just commenting about what actual reporters deliver.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@JLeslie That looks like a very interesting place to work. I scanned some of the stories and the subjects covered are important and appear top notch.

ARA is new to me, but it appears they offer a very important service to all of us through mainstream outlets. Since our domestic mainstream news outlets have sliced their research and investigative reporting budgets over recent years, a service that will send reporters on site around the world to get a story under subcontract is invaluable to the info feed.

It is in the tradition of AP, UPI and early Reuters.

Will be looking for the notation (ARA) on news articles in the future.

What does ARA stand for? Does Ajansa Rojnamevaniya Azad have anything to do with the company?

JLeslie's avatar

To clarify, I’m the Business Manager, I don’t do any of the reporting, and I don’t coordinate assignments or anything like that. I do the invoicing, pay the reporters around the world, and all the basic bookkeeping. The owner is someone I know from childhood. She’s incredibly smart and very knowledgeable.

Edit: @Espiritus_Corvus: ARA stands for Associated Reporters Abroad.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Doesn’t matter what you do there. If I find a story I don’t like, I’m bitchin’ to you now. LOL.


JLeslie's avatar

^^Ok with me. I don’t think ARA usually gets any credit. You made me curious to look. The few articles I just tapped on just show the reporter’s name. Even our reporters who are basically full time for us, and do some editing also, all I see is their name on the article, and no notation that ARA hired or paid the actual reporter who did the work.

Some reporters only do a few articles a year for us. Others do 5 or more a month plus editing others. Then there are variations in between. It just depends what’s going on in the world and where.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

You’ll probably only see (ARA) on articles that have been sold to outlets. Check those articles that are already published. You’ll probably find them by checking your itemized billing lists. Accounts Receivable.

If they are used, they must give up-front credit to ARA. I can’t conceive of an article provided by AP or Reuters that isn’t credited.

JLeslie's avatar

^^I just looked at this article for example by Patrick Costello. He’s part of our in house staff (although he is still paid as a subcontractor not employee technically) and I do that see credit to ARA.

We sell almost everything. In fact, often the outlets call us that they need a reporter on a story, and we get the story for them.

There is a variety of ways transactions happen.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I opened the same article in the Washington Times. Nope. No credit. But I see they credited the photo to AP. It may be that is because Patrick Costello was still under contract as a subcontractor to ARA when he wrote the article.

If you have the time, try checking one that has been not only been published, but written by a salaried employee of ARA. If ARA doesn’t get credit, I don’t see how they will ever grow. How will anybody, especially future buyers, know who the are and the quality of the product they sell?

Side Note: Eeew
“In Europe, right-wing parties find voice after Trump’s stunning performance”, by Patrick Costello.

See, That’s news. Whether or not he eats his boogers isn’t.

JLeslie's avatar

No one is salaried. Everyone is a subcontractor. Some reporters have a regular/fixed amount they get from us every month, and it’s essentially like they are employees.

Photos sometimes come from us, sometimes come from other places.

Now I’m wondering if even my boss, the owner, gives ARA credit. I don’t think so. She still writes now and then. Actually, she writes regularly for Bloomberg and editing for Daily Chatter.

I think you might really like Daily Chatter if you don’t mind the news coming into your email.

You’re right that credit would probably increase the business. I’m not sure she wants it to increase.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

@JLeslie My thought on reading the ARA page is thinking it should be credited and well-known.

Back in the 60s-70s-80s my dad was a newspaperman and UPI and AP were the two big sources. They appeared the same to the reader, but they were very different.

AP was a membership – all the member newspapers sent their stories to “the wire” – it was a big pool of reporting created by the members.

I think the AP exists much like that today. UPI is a shadow of its former self.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@JLeslie Maybe she really doesn’t want it to grow. Doesn’t want the hassle. But that is one helluva secure business owner. And it odd in that business sector.

I noticed that she is very good about allowing her reporters credit, though. Probably spent few years on the other side of the desk as one.

I think not getting credit as an agency is very unusual, though. Ha. She can always refuse business if she wants.

JLeslie's avatar

She was a reporter for several years, and still is part time as you see. I asked her if she wanted to increase traffic to her website, and she said no she wasn’t worried about that.

ARA is on retainer with a few of the big outlets, and has quite a bit of steady business with others. She’s incredibly busy. Meaning she herself has too much to do.

If she grew bigger at this point I think it would require another change in how business is handled. She would need more administrative staff, so maybe she just isn’t up for it now? I don’t know for sure, I’m just guessing. I could do more hours to handle the numbers side, but I don’t know about the other players. Plus, I know she wants to continue to write and edit, and the bigger she gets the more she needs to be the supervisor rather than have time for writing.

She is incredibly caring about her “staff.” Her integrity is to a fault. I could give other examples besides not taking credit as a company, but I don’t feel comfortable talking so much about it.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I understand. Sounds like your company is doing just fine.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Sounds like a talented hands-on enterpreneur/visionary destined to meet a talented business & finance person. A Steve Wozniak looking for a Steve Jobs.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

And I see now that was not a good analogy, Steve Jobs was obviously a enterpreneur/visionary.

But the situation is common. A creative talent who dreams up and builds a business from nothing often needs a business & finance person to take over the administrative side, letting the founder focus on production.

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