Military intervention against ISIL
|2014 military intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant|
|Part of the Global War on Terrorism, Iraqi insurgency, and Syrian Civil War|
Top: Two U.S. Air Force George H.W. BushUSS prior to the launch of operations over Iraq. Bottom: Map of the situation in Iraq and Syria, as of 1 December 2014.
Intervening in Iraq & Syria:
Local forces in Iraq:
Iraqi Kurdistan (by US & allies, Iran and foreign Kurds)
Local forces in Syria:
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
|Commanders and leaders|
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (Leader)
|Casualties and losses|
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant:
52 Syrian civilians killed in airstrikes
Over 300,000 civilians flee to Turkey
In response to advances made by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (abbreviated ISIL or ISIS, and calling itself the "Islamic State") militants in June and July 2014, many states began to intervene in the ongoing civil wars in Syria and Iraq. Rapid territorial gains from ISIL military operations in Iraq and Syria during the first half of 2014, combined with internationally condemned brutality, reported human rights abuses, and the fear of further spillovers of the Syrian Civil War caused many countries to consider interventions. Iran and its ally Hezbollah were the first that took direct action on the ground supported by fighters and drones. The United States started sending (non-operational) troops to Iraq in the midsummer of 2014, and began a large-scale air campaign over the region starting that August. With different agendas and political considerations in a complex situation, countries have approached intervening in the two civil war conflicts in different ways, and to different degrees.
American-led intervention in Iraq 1
- Humanitarian efforts 1.1
American military actions 1.2
- American airstrikes 1.2.1
- American ground forces 1.2.2
- The late naming of operation Inherent Resolve 1.2.3
- Australian airstrikes 1.3
- British airstrikes 1.4
- Canadian airstrikes 1.5
- French airstrikes 1.6
- Military aid 1.7
- Iranian airstrikes and ground operations in Iraq 2
- Other involvement across the conflict zone 3
American-led military intervention in Syria 4
- Hostage rescue attempt 4.1
- Aerial surveillance 4.2
Arming and training rebels 4.3
- United States 4.3.1
- Saudi Arabia 4.3.2
- Multi-national airstrikes 4.4
- Other foreign interventions in Syria 5
ISIL forces 6
- Equipment 6.1
- Forces 6.2
- Turkish involvement 7
- In Literature 8
- See also 9
- References 10
- External links 11
American-led intervention in Iraq
Starting in August 2014, the United States assembled a coalition of partner countries to combat ISIL. Various countries contributed aircraft, military aid to local ground forces, military advisors to train local forces in-country, and bases for operations and training of local ground forces. In addition to military efforts, many countries mounted a considerable humanitarian effort to assist ethnic minorities in northern Iraq who are under the threat of genocide or had fled from ISIL in Iraqi Kurdistan and other areas.
In August, speaking about US involvement in Iraq, President Barack Obama said "this is going to be a long-term project". The military effort subsequently expanded to protect Iraqi infrastructure and provide air cover to Iraqi troops. Since the commencement and expansion of U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State, Kurdish and Iraqi forces have been able to reverse significant extremist advances and retake control of the Mosul Dam, the largest dam in Iraq. In late August, when asked by reporters about his plans regarding military options in response to gains made by ISIS, President Obama replied "we don't have a strategy yet". President Obama announced on 10 September 2014 that he would begin to pursue airstrikes in Syria with or without congressional approval; he also announced that the number of airstrikes in Iraq would increase.
The US, the UK, and Australia, supported by international partners, launched a large humanitarian effort to support refugees stranded in northern Iraq. This included air-dropping tens of thousands of meals and thousands of gallons of drinking water to Yazidi refugees stranded in the Sinjar mountains and threatened by advancing ISIL forces, between 7–14 August in what was later described as "the first mass air delivery of humanitarian cargo since the outbreak of violence in East Timor in 1999."
American military actions
In the summer of 2014 U.S. forces started undertaking reconnaissance missions over northern Iraq. On 7 August, President Obama gave a live address describing the worsening conditions in Iraq and that the plight of the Yazidis particular had convinced him that U.S. military action was necessary to protect American lives, protect minority groups in Iraq, and to stop a possible ISIL advance on Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish Autonomous Region. On 8 August the United States started to bomb ISIL targets in Iraq. By 10 August, assisted by these air attacks, Kurdish forces claimed to have recaptured the towns of Mahmour and Gweyr from Islamic State control. Additional Iraqi airstrikes conducted in Sinjar claim to have killed 45 ISIS militants and injured an additional 60 militants. The Pentagon characterized airstrikes as stopgap military actions that would not be able to significantly disrupt Islamic State activities. On 14 August, U.S air-strikes and Kurdish ground forces had broken the ISIL siege of Mount Sinjar, allowing thousands of Yazidi refugees to escape.
The U.S. announced a shift in focus to arming the Kurds and reversing ISIL gains. On 16 August, U.S. air power began a close air campaign aimed at supporting the advance of Kurdish fighters moving toward the Mosul Dam. Kurdish sources commented that it was "heaviest US bombing of militant positions since the start of air strikes". On 8 September, the Iraqi army, with close air support from the U.S., retook the key Haditha dam and recaptured the town of Barwana, killing 15 ISIL fighters. ISIL responded with the public execution of David Haines.
By the end of September 2014, the United States had conducted 240 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, as well as 1,300 tanker refueling missions, totaling 3,800 sorties by all types of aircraft. A tactical arrangement with Kurdish and Iraqi forces, and drone videos are being used to coordinate close air support without needing U.S. troops in ground combat.
American ground forces
In July, Obama announced that owing to the continuing violence in Iraq and the growing influence of non-state actors such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the United States would be elevating its security commitment in the region. Approximately 800 U.S. troops secured American installations like the Embassy in Baghdad and the Consulate in Erbil as well as taking control of strategic locations like the Baghdad airport in cooperation with Iraqi troops.
U.S. forces also undertook a mission to "assess and to advise [Iraqi security forces] as they confront [ISIL] and the complex security situation on the ground." Reports from these American units about the capabilities of the Iraqi military have been consistently grim, viewing them as "compromised" by sectarian interests.
On 13 August, the U.S. deployed another 130 military advisers to Northern Iraq and up to 20 U.S. Marines and special forces servicemen landed on Mount Sinjar from V-22 aircraft to coordinate the evacuation of Yazidi refugees joining British SAS already in the area.
On 3 September, Obama announced increase of U.S. forces in Iraq to 1,213. On 10 September, Obama gave a speech reiterating that U.S. troops will not fight in combat, but about 500 more troops will be sent to Iraq to help train Iraqi forces.
In early November, Obama announced that he would be doubling the US ground presence inside Iraq to around 3,000 men.
The late naming of operation Inherent Resolve
Unlike their coalition partners, and unlike previous American combat operations, no name was originally given to the 2014 conflict against ISIL by the U.S. government. The decision to keep the conflict nameless drew considerable media criticism. U.S. Service members remain ineligible for Campaign Medals and other service decorations due to the continuing ambiguous nature of the continuing U.S. involvement in Iraq.
On 15 October 2014, the United States Central Command announced that the U.S.-led air campaign against ISIL in Iraq and Syria was henceforth designated as Operation Inherent Resolve. The CENTCOM news release noted:
"According to CENTCOM officials, the name INHERENT RESOLVE is intended to reflect the unwavering resolve and deep commitment of the U.S. and partner nations in the region and around the globe to eliminate the terrorist group ISIL and the threat they pose to Iraq, the region and the wider international community. It also symbolizes the willingness and dedication of coalition members to work closely with our friends in the region and apply all available dimensions of national power necessary—diplomatic, informational, military, economic—to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL."
Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the Australian cabinet approved on 3 October for RAAF Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter bombers to begin airstrikes against Islamic State militants. Abbott said "It is in our national interest that we do so, it is in the interests of civilisation that we do so. It is in everyone's best interests that the murderous rage of the ISIL death cult be checked and rolled back and that's what we're determined to do."
On 6 October Air Chief Marshall Mark Binskin announced two Super Hornets had conducted armed combat missions over Iraq although no armaments were expended. An Australian Air task Group KC-30A and an E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft have also been flying in support to fighter bombers belonging to coalition forces. The KC-30A performs airborne refueling for coalition aircraft. Binskin said "One of our Super Hornet packages on the first night … had an identified target which it was tracking and that particular target moved into an urban area where the risks of conducting a strike on that target increased to a point where it exceeded our expectations of collateral damage, so they discontinued the attack at that point."
On 9 October Prime Minister Tony Abbott confirmed that RAAF Super Hornets had been involved in a "strike missions on an ISIL position in Iraq". The aircraft dropped two bombs onto an isolated building which ISIL was using as a command and control centre.
As of 17 October the Royal Australian Air Force had conducted 43 combat sorties over Iraq. Recent strikes had targeted equipment facilities, with "at least two" resulting in ISIL casualties after Australian aircraft had increased the number of missions flown to allow US and coalition forces to assist Kurdish fighters around Kobani, in northern Syria.
On 12 August 2014, the United Kingdom deployed six Tornado GR4 strike aircraft to RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus to help coordinate British humanitarian aid airdrops in Northern Iraq. On 16 August, following the suspension of humanitarian aid airdrops, these aircraft, along with an RC-135 Rivet Joint, were re-tasked to provide aerial surveillance to coalition forces.
In early September, Prime Minister David Cameron began to voice his support for British airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq. On 26 September, Parliament was recalled and MP's debated whether or not to authorise British airstrikes in Iraq. The debate resulted in overwhelming support for airstrikes, with 524 votes in favour and 43 votes against.
On 27 September, the first armed reconnaissance mission took place over Northern Iraq. A patrol of two Tornado GR4's left RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus armed with Paveway IV laser-guided bombs. The patrol did not identify any targets requiring immediate air attack and so gathered vital intelligence for coalition forces instead. The aircraft were supported by a Voyager aerial refueling tanker.
On 30 September, the Royal Air Force conducted its first airstrike. A patrol of two Tornado GR4's engaged a heavy weapon position with a Paveway IV laser-guided bomb and an armed pickup truck with a Brimstone air-to-surface missile.
As of 30 October, the United Kingdom has conducted over a dozen airstrikes in Iraq. These airstrikes have so far targeted ISIS pickup trucks, armoured personnel carriers, main battle tanks and fortified buildings in and around Baghdad, Hīt, Kirkuk, and Ramadi.
The British contribution to the coalition has steadily increased since it first began on 26 September. On 3 October, two additional Tornado GR4 strike aircraft were deployed to Cyprus to compliment the original six. It was also revealed during the same month that the
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- Adeerus Ghayan. "The Scriptwriter". Goodreads.
- 2003 invasion of Iraq
- Iraq War
- Arab Winter
- Iraqi insurgency (2011–present)
- Northern Iraq offensive (August 2014)
- Northern Iraq offensive (June 2014)
- Siege of Kobanî
- Spillover of the Syrian Civil War
- Timeline of the Syrian Civil War (August 2014–present)
- List of wars and battles involving the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
The Scriptwriter is the first novel written by a Muslim author on ISIL. The novel's plot revolves around US's attack on ISIL.
Turkey maintains sovereignty over a small enclave within Syria itself, the Tomb of Suleyman Shah on the right bank of the Euphrates in Aleppo Province near the village of Qarah Qawzak (Karakozak). The Tomb is guarded by a small permanent garrison of Turkish soldiers, who rotate in from a battalion based at the Turkish border some 25 kilometres (16 mi) away—even as the civil war unfolded around them. Up until Syrian forces shot down a Turkish warplane in June 2012, the garrison numbered 15 men in total. Following the incident, the Turkish government doubled the number of soldiers stationed at the tomb to 30, while Prime Minister Erdoğan warned that "the tomb of Suleyman Shah and the land that surrounds it are Turkish territory. Any act of aggression against it would be an attack on our territory and NATO territory." Analysts have cited the Tomb as a potential future flashpoint in Turkish-Syrian relations.
Although there has been a massive refugee flow of an estimated 300,000 Kurds from Kobanǐ and the surrounding villages fleeing into Turkey, as well as 545 injured Kurdish fighters being treated in Turkish hospitals, Kurdish officials remain critical of Turkish action. They raise the issue that Turkey will not allow any new Kurdish fighters to cross back into Kobane to assist the YPG and that Turkey will not allow any supplies including ammunition to be sent across the border to them.
Turkey demanded several things to go along with their intervention including a buffer zone in Northern Syria, a no fly zone over certain parts of Syria, ground troops from other countries, and training moderate opposition forces to fight ISIL and Assad.
On October 2, Turkey also lined up tanks on its southern border near the border city of Kobanî, with the tanks pointed at the border.
Kurdish officials have accused Turkey of actually supporting ISIL, as the militants have been attacking Kurdish held areas in Syria right along the Turkish border with no action from Turkey. Along not intervening against ISIL activities against Kurds, Kurdish officials have also accused Turkey of supporting ISIL by not controlling their border more effectively. Most of the foreign fighters arriving in Syria to fight with ISIL along with many of the weapons and supplies flowing to ISIL come through Turkey.
NATO member Turkey has been involved in the Syrian Civil War since its beginning. Turkey has trained and armed some members of the Free Syrian Army, and has been involved in spillover incidents; however, Turkey has not been involved in direct combat. On October 2, 2014, the Turkish Parliament authorized direct military action in both Iraq and Syria including using military force in Syria and Iraq as well as allowing coalition members to use bases in Turkey.
Early estimates put ISIL forces at about 10,000; however, in September 2014, the Central Intelligence Agency increased its estimate to a high of 31,500 ground troops. Additionally, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) estimated ISIL forces totaling 80,000–100,000 (up to 50,000 in Syria and 30,000 in Iraq). However, by November 2014, the Chief of Staff of Iraqi Kurdistan estimated that ISIL had a total of 200,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria.
Conflict Armament Research, a private arms-tracking organization, has concluded that ISIL military forces are using ammunition of United States and Chinese manufacture. According to CAR, these are most likely munitions transferred by the U.S. and Chinese governments to regional actors for use against ISIL troops which are being captured as local forces disintegrate. A U.S. Department of Defense Inspector-General report concluded that the U.S. had lost track of nearly 250,000 small arms that were provided to the security forces of Afghanistan; some of this quantity may have made its way into ISIS hands. In addition to small arms and ammunition, heavy equipment is frequently or often of American manufacture. Over a six-week period in late summer and early fall, the U.S. Air Force destroyed at least three dozen U.S.-made Humvees being operated by ISIL, which were originally donated by the U.S. to the Iraqi army.
The Syrian Civil War functions as a proxy war and has had many foreign interventions supporting various sides in the conflict. The Independent reported that Qatar had funded the Syrian rebellion by as much as $3 billion. There have also been actions taken by all adjoining nations impacted by spillover. Significant humanitarian aid has been provided to conflict victims.
Other foreign interventions in Syria
Starting on 23 September 2014, the U.S., Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates began airstrikes against ISIL targets in Syria with fighters, bombers, and sea-based Tomahawk cruise missiles. Strikes continue to take place in Syria daily. Additionally, on the first night, US forces launched eight cruise missile strikes against al-Qaeda-affiliated Khorasan and additional strikes in early November 2014 against the same group.
According to the United States Department of Defense, Saudi Arabia has proposed that they would provide training to Syrian rebels so they could return to Syria and battle ISIL.
On 17 September, the House of Representatives voted to authorize spending to train and arm moderate Syrian rebels.
At the direction of President Obama, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency played an active role since the early stages of the Syrian Civil War. The U.S. originally supplied the moderate rebels of the Free Syrian Army with non-lethal aid but soon escalated to providing training, cash and intelligence to selected rebel commanders.
Arming and training rebels
On 4 July, the U.S. bombed the "Osama bin Laden" ISIL military base in the village of Uqayrishah, Syria. Two dozen American Delta Force commandos then touched down in an effort to rescue hostages including James Foley. In a series of videos, Foley, Steven Joel Sotloff, and several more hostages were murdered.
Hostage rescue attempt
American-led military intervention in Syria
Iraqi Kurdistan and Syrian Kurdistan have de facto governments autonomous from the national governments, with their own armies, while in Iran and Turkey, the Kurds maintain rebel armies. These various Kurdish forces have been crossing into Syria and Iraq to fight ISIL with local Kurds. The US-led coalition is not known to be coordinating directly with the intervening Iranian or Turkish Kurds, but is coordinating with the Iraqi and Syrian Kurds. There are also the No Surrender Banditos and the Median Empire Motorcycle Club biker club members from the Netherlands and Germany, fighting alongside Kurdish forces against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Shia militias, such as the Khorasani Brigade, have occupied Sunni villages formerly controlled by ISIL. In the village of Yengija, 50 miles south of Kirkuk, the Sunni population was expelled and their homes were razed.
Other involvement across the conflict zone
In June 2014, Iran committed approximately 500 soldiers of the elite Qods Force to Iraq to help shore-up that nation's government in the face of ISIL advances. Qods Force personnel were deployed to Samarra, Baghdad, Karbala, and the abandoned U.S. military post formerly known as Camp Speicher. On 25 July, Qods Force soldier Shojaat Alamdari was killed in Samarra while operating as a forward air controller in action against ISIL. Reports have indicated that former Qods Force commander Qassem Suleimani is acting as the Iraqi government's "chief tactician" during the anti-ISIS operations. Seven Su-25 aircraft and some drones were sent by Iran, where they operated against ISIL with bi-national Iranian/Iraqi crews. Direct airstrikes of ISIS positions by the Iranian air force were first reported in June 2014, and confirmed in early December of that year
Iranian airstrikes and ground operations in Iraq
According to Rand Paul, the Kentucky senator, US government is accused of arming the ISIL. The US government has been funding ISIL's allies such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar and supporting the terrorist group in Syria, Paul has told NBC News’s ‘Meet the Press'. "I think one of the reasons why ISIL has been emboldened is because we have been arming their allies. We have been allied with ISIL in Syria," Paul said to CNN.
In a coordinated effort led by the United States, many allied countries including NATO members and Middle Eastern partners have supplied or plan to supply Iraqi and/or Kurdish forces with heavy military equipment, small arms, ammunition, non-lethal military gear, and training support.
On 5 August 2014, Zalmay Khalilzad, the former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and the U.N., wrote in the Washington Post that the United States is involved in "the direct supply of munitions to the Kurds and, with Baghdad's agreement, the shipment of some Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program weapons to the Kurds." The United States moved from indirectly supplying Kurdistan with small arms through the CIA to directly giving them weapons such as man-portable anti-tank systems.
On 19 September, the French air force used its Rafale jets to conduct airstrikes on ISIL targets in Mosul. The airstrikes were approved by French President François Hollande, which indicated that France was committed to fighting ISIL using air power alongside America. Hollande mentioned that no ground troops would be used in the conflict. Since November 20, 2014, France deployed 7 Dassault Rafale, 6 Mirage 2000D, 1 Falcon 50, 1 anti-aircraft frigate Jean-Bart, and 1 Atlantique 2 patrol aircraft.
On November 12 Canadian jets destroyed ISIL artillery just outside the Northern Iraqi town of Baiji.
On November 4, 2014 the Canadian air force CF-18s successfully destroyed ISIL construction equipment using GBU-12 bombs. The construction equipment was being used to divert the Euphrates River to deny villages water and flood roads, diverting traffic to areas with IEDs.
Canadian CF-18 fighter jets completed their first operational flights departing from Kuwait on October 31. The first Canadian airstrikes began on 2 November. Canada also flew an extra CF-18 to Kuwait to be used as a spare if the need arises, however a maximum of six are authorized to fly with the coalition missions.
The Canadian contribution has been codenamed Operation Impact by the Canadian Department of National Defence. Canadian aircraft left for the Middle East to join in airstrikes on October 21. In total, six CF-18 fighter jets, an Airbus CC-150 Polaris air-to-air refueling tanker and two CP-140 Aurora surveillance aircraft were sent, along with 700 military personnel.
 missile was used to conduct the strike.Hellfire, north of Baghdad on 10 November 2014, against a group of ISIL militants which had been laying improvised explosive devices in the area. A single Bayji The first Reaper drone strike was conducted by the RAF in  On 7 November, the Ministry of Defence announced it would double the number of Reaper aircraft deployed to the Middle East. On 21 October, the Ministry of Defence confirmed the MQ-9 Reaper drones would also operate over Syria in a surveillance role. has stated that "If strike operations are required then Reaper has the ability to complement the sorties RAF Tornados have already completed".Michael Fallon Defence Secretary drones to Iraq. These aircraft were deployed to assist with surveillance, but MQ-9 Reaper On 16 October, the Ministry of Defence announced the deployment of armed  deployed to the Persian Gulf, though it has not yet conducted any attacks.Tomahawk cruise missiles also disclosed during an interview that there was a nuclear attack submarine armed with Nick Clegg Deputy Prime Minister