Baghdad (AFP) – The first strikes of a US-led campaign against the Islamic State group were launched in Iraq two years ago on Monday, with coalition operations later expanding to Syria.
IS overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014 and seized significant territory in northern and eastern Syria amid the chaos of that country’s civil war, declaring a cross-border “caliphate”.
In Syria, coalition-backed Kurdish and Arab anti-IS forces defeated the jihadists in the city of Kobane, recaptured the city of Tal Abyad and the town of Manbij and have pledged to retake Raqa, the jihadists’ de facto Syrian capital.
Iraqi forces have retaken the cities of Tikrit, Ramadi and Fallujah and have now set their sights on ousting IS from Nineveh province and its capital Mosul, the country’s second city.
In addition to air strikes, the coalition has provided advice, training and other assistance to anti-IS forces in both countries.
Meeting in Washington last month, top diplomatic and military officials from coalition countries discussed plans that Pentagon chief Ashton Carter said would deliver a “lasting defeat” to IS.
Here are some key figures from the coalition on operations against IS:
14,301: The total number of strikes carried out by the coalition from the beginning of the campaign to August 6. A total of 9,514 of the strikes were in Iraq and 4,787 in Syria. Coalition strikes have played a major role in Iraqi advances and have assisted anti-IS forces in Syria.
19,000-25,000: IS fighters estimated to be operating in Iraq and Syria. This compares to an estimated 20,000 to 31,500 in 2014.
55: The number of civilians the United States has confirmed were killed in coalition strikes in Iraq and Syria as of July 28. Twenty-nine civilians have been confirmed as injured. Some observers believe civilian casualties have been significantly higher.
5: The number of “combat-related deaths” of international coalition military personnel. Two Americans died of wounds sustained in firefights with IS, while rocket fire left a third dead. IS also burned a Jordanian pilot to death in a cage in Syria, while Iraqi Kurdish forces mistakenly killed a Canadian.
47: The percentage of territory IS has lost in Iraq, according to US Special Envoy Brett McGurk. The jihadists are thought to have lost around 20 percent of territory they once held in Syria.
6,500: The approximate number of coalition forces deployed in support of operations against IS. Most are in Iraq, but some have also been sent to Syria. Some have directly fought IS militants, but most are in training or advisory roles.
13: Coalition countries carrying out strikes against IS in Iraq, Syria or both. They are: Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Jordan, The Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.
7.7 billion: The total cost in dollars of US operations against IS from the start of strikes to May 31 this year.