A flight of US Air Force and Marine Corps aircraft conducted a massive airstrike on an ISIS chemical weapons facility, dropping dozens of weapons at the same time to wipe out a facility used to create chlorine gas. The Sept. 12 strike included 12 aircraft—Air Force F-15Es, F-16s, A-10s, B-52s, and Marine Corps F/A-18Ds—that hit more than 50 “points of interest” at an ISIS weapons storage facility and headquarters building near Mosul, Air Forces Central Command boss Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian said in a Tuesday briefing. US intelligence watched the building and planners determined it needed the large flight of aircraft to carry the right amount of weapons at the same time “to take out the breadth of that facility out there on the ground,” Harrigian said. “Intelligence had indicated that Daesh converted a pharmaceutical plant complex into a chemical weapons production capability,” Harrigian said, using another term for ISIS. “This represents just another example of Daesh’s blatant disregard for international law and norms.” US and coalition aircraft in August dropped 108 bombs, down from 160 the month before, according to AFCENT statistics released Tuesday. So far this year, aircraft have flown 3,513 sorties. (Watch a video of the strike.)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.