Trump Really Is 'Bombing the Shit' Out of ISIS Just Like He Promised

President Donald Trump pledged on the campaign trail to “bomb the shit” out of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria, and new figures reveal that he is doing just that. The United States-led coalition dropped more than 5,000 bombs on the group’s positions in August.

"Coalition airpower continued its annihilation of ISIS, releasing more than 5,075 weapons, the most of any month in the three-year campaign to defeat ISIS,” the figures released by the U.S. Air Forces Central Command showed. 

This number surpassed the previous monthly high for the campaign known as Operation Inherent Resolve, which was 4,848 in June, and double the number the year before, when it was just 2,244.

The military force said the majority of the strikes in August were conducted in support of Iraqi and Syrian ground forces battling ISIS on two fronts: to liberate the northwestern Iraqi city of Tal Afar, which has now been wrestled from the jihadist group; and the eastern Syrian city of Raqqa, where a coalition of Kurdish-Arab fighters are continuing a months-long siege.

Under the Trump administration, U.S. military commanders have been handed a greater remit to decide strike locations and the frequency of those strikes. Already, 2017 is the year with the largest number of bombs dropped by the coalition, with only three-quarters of the year passed. 

The year has seen 32,801 weapons released in the campaign against ISIS, compared to the campaign under the Obama administration, in which 30,743 were released in the whole of 2016, and 28,696 in 2015. The number of sorties is much lower than those in previous years, however, with 13,109 in 2017 so far, compared to 21,116 in 2015, and 21,181 in 2016.

The figures do not account for coalition aircraft, so they are not a full representation of the total bombing raids used against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

09_14_Mosul_Iraq Smoke billows following an air strike in the Old City of Mosul as Iraqi government forces battle Islamic State (ISIS) group jihadists, on July 8. Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty

Along with the Trump administration’s new strategy to defeat ISIS, the battle for the northern Iraqi city of Mosul was in play for more than half of the year.

The operation, which began in October 2016, became a nine-month slog that ended in Mosul's Old City with the capture of key buildings such as the famous Al-Nuri Mosque where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a self-proclaimed caliphate in July 2014.

Trump’s Defense Secretary James Mattis said during the operation that the military had changed its strategy and was beginning to use “annihilation tactics,” instead of attrition, to defeat the group. 

“Our intention is that the foreign fighters do not survive the fight to return home to North Africa, to Europe, to America, to Asia, to Africa, we are not going to allow them to do so,” Mattis said in May. “We are going to stop them there and take apart the caliphate.”

Increased strikes have brought increased casualties. Rights groups have condemned the U.S. coalition’s bombing raids for creating greater collateral damage. In one particular case, U.S. coalition strikes killed more than 100 people in the western Mosul neighborhood of al-Jadida.

The coalition said the building it had struck had been rigged with ISIS booby traps and resulted in a greater blast than what would have been caused by munitions. The U.N. and Mosul locals had put the death toll much higher, with some accounts reporting more than 140 civilians killed.

The coalition is also battling ISIS in Afghanistan, where the group is growing in influence in several provinces and has used the country to commit large-scale attacks in the capital, Kabul. The figures for bombs dropped in the country are the highest they have been since 2012. There were 503 “weapons released” in August, the highest total since August 2012.

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