A munitions technician, assigned to the 23rd Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit, prepares to load munitions on a B-52 Stratofortress assigned to the 23rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, June 15, 2017. Air Force photo by SSgt. Trevor T. McBride.
US-led coalition aircraft in June set another record for the most airstrikes in its ongoing campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, dropping 4,848 weapons last month.
The spike in airstrikes came as coalition forces assisted Iraqi Security Forces in liberating ISIS from Mosul. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi proclaimed victory from the city on Sunday.
US Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said in a Monday statement that while there will still be some back-clearing operations, the liberation of Mosul is a “historic victory against a brutal and evil enemy.”
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in a statement, congratulated both the Iraqi Security Forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga on the liberation, and promised continued support as displaced civilians returned to the city. “There is still much work to be done to defeat this enemy,” he said. Iraqi forces still face threats from ISIS fighters in hiding and remaining explosive devices.
The liberation of Mosul is the latest in on?going momentum in retaking land from the group in both Iraq and in Syria, where US-backed fighters have closed in on Raqqa.
Coalition aircraft so far this year have flown 9,663 combat sorties in the operations against ISIS, 6,212 of which included at least one weapon released, according to statistics released Monday by Air Forces Central Command. US and coalition intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft have contributed 7,013 sorties, and tankers have so far flown 6,379 sorties.
US airpower has stayed steady in Afghanistan, with American aircraft dropping 389 weapons in June. So far this year, aircraft have flown 2,049 close air support sorties, with 513 including at least one weapons release.