2023: Surge in anti-ISIS operations with fewer militant casualties

2023: Surge in anti-ISIS operations with fewer militant casualties

Shafaq News / The American military affairs-focused website "Mission and Objective" reported that the United States and its allies conducted 387 operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria throughout 2023. This surpasses their activity in the entire year of 2022. However, despite the intensified pace of these operations, notably fewer ISIS militants were killed compared to the previous year.

Citing the US Central Command (CENTCOM), the report stated that as of October 2023, US forces and their allies eliminated 101 suspected militants in these operations, with 78 in Iraq and 23 in Syria. In contrast, allied forces killed at least 686 ISIS militants during 2022, comprising 220 in Iraq and 466 in Syria.

The report highlighted that while fewer ISIS militants were killed in 2023, allied forces apprehended a larger number of suspected ISIS members compared to 2022. It indicated a total of 483 ISIS members were detained by the end of October, including 150 in Iraq and 333 in Syria. In contrast, during 2022, US and allied forces apprehended 374 suspected individuals, with 159 in Iraq and 215 in Syria.

Despite continuous attacks launched by Iran-backed groups against US forces in the region, the pace of operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria remained consistent in September and October compared to previous months. The Pentagon reported that since October 17, US troops faced 64 drone and rocket attacks, with 30 in Iraq and 34 in Syria.

Daiel Bayman, a researcher at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, pointed out that the increased mission rates and reduced casualties coincide with ISIS's shift toward hiding. He noted the organization's adoption of guerrilla warfare tactics, likely resulting in armed clashes with other groups.

Bayman questioned whether ISIS's reduced casualties meant the organization was becoming less significant or if the US presence weakened it. He highlighted the uncertain extent of ISIS's current weakness, mentioning that full eradication of ISIS would require improved governance in the area to dissuade locals from joining the terrorist group. He emphasized the complexity of this issue during periods of civil unrest or war.

Bayman further outlined the current US strategy aimed at permanently diminishing ISIS's capabilities, compelling the group to allocate resources to survival rather than planning larger-scale attacks.

The report detailed that during September and October, US forces conducted 53 joint operations in Iraq, resulting in the deaths of 10 suspected ISIS militants and the arrest of 33 others. In Syria, 23 joint operations occurred, with an additional three US-exclusive missions, leading to the death of three ISIS members and the arrest of 45 others.

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