Anti-Daesh coalition strikes drop to lowest number

This Jan. 19, 2017 photo, shows a general view of the destruction in the old city of Aleppo, Syria. (AP)
Updated 22 November 2017
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Anti-Daesh coalition strikes drop to lowest number

BEIRUT: Airstrikes by the US-led coalition against Daesh in Iraq and Syria have dropped significantly, a spokesman said Tuesday, as the war against the terrorists winds down.
A single strike on Nov. 8 “marked fewest strikes/munitions dropped” in the more than three-year-old campaign against Daesh, coalition spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon said on social media.
“Nearly all territory once controlled by ISIS (Daesh) retaken; 7.5 million people no longer under Daesh control,” wrote Dillon.
Coalition aircraft have conducted dozens of strikes, which can each consist of multiple engagements, in November, a month that saw heavy fighting to dislodge IS from its last remaining bastions.
Syrian regime and allied forces this month retook the town of Albu Kamal, which lies on the border with Iraq, where anti-Daesh forces also retook Rawa, the last town the militants held in the country.
Nonetheless, major operations — such as those that saw tens of thousands of troops battle for several months to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second city, in July, and Raqqa, the terrorists’ main hub in Syria, last month — are over.
At its peak, when coalition-backed forces were battling Daesh on multiple fronts across the “caliphate” Daesh proclaimed in July 2014, the daily count of air strikes could top 50.
Reflecting the decline in anti-Daesh operations, the coalition announced on Tuesday that it would only divulge the details of its strikes twice weekly instead of daily.
In August 2014, then US president Barack Obama sent warplanes to carry out strikes against Daesh when the terror group was massacring members of the Yazidi minority in the Sinjar region of northern Iraq.
A coalition was formed soon after with the support of around 60 nations, although only a handful such as Australia, Britain and France, played a significant military role.
The number of surviving, active Daesh fighters has dropped drastically to a few hundred in recent months, and holdout terrorists are now mostly confined to pockets in remote desert areas along the Iraq-Syria border.
Those areas need to be cleared before a definitive victory against Daesh on the ground can be claimed.
Observers have warned that the group will remain a potent force even after it loses its last fixed positions, as it continues to carry out and inspire deadly terror attacks in the region and beyond.


Saudi Arabia pledges $100m to help ‘stabilize’ Syria’s northeast

Updated 26 min 35 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia pledges $100m to help ‘stabilize’ Syria’s northeast

  • United States, which leads the anti-Daesh coalition, expressed its  thanks for the funds
  • The money will help ensure the militants cannot re-emerge as a threat

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has contributed $100 million to help reconstruct areas of north-eastern Syria formerly held by Daesh.

The Kingdom said the contribution would go toward a campaign by the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS to “stabilize” the former Daesh bastion and help ensure the militants cannot re-emerge as a threat.

The United States, which leads the coalition, expressed its  thanks and appreciation to Riyadh.

“This significant contribution is critical to stabilization and early recovery efforts,” a State Department spokeswoman said. “Saudi Arabia has been a leading partner in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS from the outset.”

The funds are the biggest single financial  contribution yet for reconstruction efforts in areas formerly controlled by the extremists.

The money would “save lives, help facilitate the return of displaced Syrians, and help ensure that Daesh cannot reemerge to threaten Syria, its neighbors, or plan attacks against the international community,” the Saudi Embassy in Washington said.

The contribution aims to support “stabilization projects” and “will play a critical role in the coalition’s efforts to revitalize communities, such as Raqqa, that have been devastated by Daesh terrorists.”

The statement said the money showed Saudi Arabia’s continued commitment to serve as a stabilizing force in the region.

The funds, part of a pledge made by Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir last month, will go towards projects to restore essential services in the areas of health, agriculture, electricity, water, education, and transportation.

The United Nations has said reconstruction in Syria would cost at least $250 billion. The Daesh takeover of large areas of territory in Syria and Iraq in 2014 led to huge levels of destruction. 

A conference on the reconstruction of Iraq held in Kuwait in February raised $30 billion in funding commitment. Saudi Arabia said at the event it would contribute $1.5 billion in financial and reconstruction support. 

Saudi Arabia also hosted the founding conference for the coalition in Jeddah in September 2014, and soon after flew the first air missions to bomb Daesh targets in Syria.