July 15, 2015
Tension is building among the U.S. federal leaders over specified matters of bombing efforts against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. On July 4, 16 airstrikes were launched surrounding the jihadist headquarters in Raqqa with the intent of blocking off some the H.Q.’s resupply routes, which was followed by more airstrikes and Kurdish offensives. Grounded Arab allies felt nervous about these aggressive Kurd advances, while the Syrian and Turkish governments felt uneasy about Kurds’ intentions of claiming land. ISIS regained some of this territory by storming through a small Syrian town near Raqqa on July 7 in response to the U.S.-led airstrikes. The Islamic State’s recent losses have exposed some of the group’s vulnerabilities, which the U.S. is now using to help strategize and devise furthered action.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter has been spearheading the training of Syrian volunteer opposition fighters with a $500 million program Congress signed off on last year to combat ISIS. Currently, only 60 of the 7,000 Syrian volunteers are actually in training, a decline since May when there were reportedly 90 fighters. The training program did not look as though it would take off successfully either, as earlier this month 3,500 American troops were on the ground training just 2,600 Iraqis. Despite the increase in participants to currently 3,500 on each side, the program is stalling, and officials are working on adjustments.
Meanwhile, Iraq is focused on taking back the city of Ramadi after ISIS gained control of it back in May. In order to achieve this, they plan on cutting off the State’s access to Baghdad and making moves on Fallujah. They claim to have the upper hand at the moment with Iraqi militia and U.S. airforce advantage if they wage a siege with the Shia military. The Pentagon claims to be in full support of this plan. Their security forces intend to launch this counteroffensive for Ramadi in the coming weeks by putting their armed powers into action and finding the opportune moment.
Author – Megan Norris, Restoring Family Links Intern