By Brett Daniel Shehadey
Special Contributor for In Homeland Security
Two U.S. airstrikes were conducted in Iraq last Friday night. One, near the city of Mosul, destroyed a convoy of 10 armed Islamic State vehicles at what was believed to be a gathering of the leadership. At least one key aid, Abdul Rahman al-Athaee (or Abu Saja) died Friday night’s air attack.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-appointed caliphate of the Islamic State, was reported wounded, according to Iraqi officials. The U.S. has stated that it could not confirm at this time his presence or his death. Even if Baghdadi was among some 50 VIP jihadist casualties, it is far an assured victory and more of a target of opportunity.
Britain’s Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Houghton, said: “What I wouldn’t want to do is rush to the sense that the potential death of one of their totemic leaders is going to create some strategic reverse within Isis. They will regenerate leadership … because of the current potential attractiveness of this warped ideology. Unless we get the political dimension of the strategy in place then Isis has the potential to keep regenerating and certainly regenerating its leaders.”
Other American airstrikes that night hit an armed ISIL vehicle and checkpoints in Al Qaim, Iraq; Anbar Province, at the Syrian border.
Some substantial military progress is being made with U.S. leadership and the coalition forces. The Islamic State is being placed on the defensive with the increase of airstrikes against them. They are forced to travel in small and tight groups, meet less frequently, make fewer cross-border trips, etc.
President Barack Obama is sending 1,500 more U.S. troops to Iraq, in addition to the 1,600 American personnel already there, bringing the count to over 3,000. A large part of their mission will be to retrain the Iraqi security forces. The President has restated that Iraqi ground troops must engage the enemy with American supportive roles and that direct combat was reserved for the Iraqis. He mentioned “going on the offensive” with airpower and limited ground support and “start pushing them back…rather than try to halt ISIL’s momentum.”
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