The Operation Inherent Resolve mission to defeat the Islamic State has picked up the tempo this month.
On May 1, the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, resumed major offensive operations in the middle Euphrates River valley, where ISIS holdouts are known to remain.
“Since then, the SDF has continued to gain ground through offensive operations, coupled with precision coalition strike support,” Inherent Resolve officials said in a statement Friday morning.
In May alone, the U.S.-led coalition has conducted 184 strikes. This represents a 149 percent increase over the 74 strikes conducted in March and surpassed Inherent Resolve’s total of 183 strikes in the entire month of April 2018, according to the statement.
A strike, as defined in the Inherent Resolve statement, refers to one or more kinetic engagements that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative effect in that location.
Operations against ISIS forces were put on pause in March, when some elements within the SDF, which itself is a mix of Kurdish and Arab groups, moved north to defend Kurdish enclaves in Syria’s Afrin region from a Turkish offensive.
Currently, ISIS holdouts are focused in isolated pockets along the middle Euphrates River valley, according to a Pentagon briefing in April.
“[ISIS] morale is sinking on the frontlines as privileged Daesh leaders increasingly abandon their own fighters on the battlefield, taking resources with them as they flee,” officials said in Friday’s statement.
The coalition’s push to eliminate the remnants of these ISIS fighters has been dubbed “Operation Roundup,” Col. Rob Manning, the Pentagon’s director of press operations, told reporters this week.
“Coalition forces support the SDF’s efforts by conducting air, artillery and mortar strikes against ISIS targets,” Manning said.
In particular, coalition strikes have been targeting ISIS tactical units, command and control nodes, supply routes and fighting positions near Abu Kamal — a town on the border of Iraq and Syria.
The SDF has cleared more than 19 square miles of territory, bringing the total liberated area in the valley to more than 1,900 square miles, Manning said.
Srikes weren’t soley focused in Syria, however.
For instance, outside Baghdad, Iraq, a coalition strike was directed against five ISIS tunnels, and another strike near Qayyarah, in northern Iraq, destroyed three ISIS caves, according to the Friday report from Inherent Resolve.
Most of the strikes in Iraq, noted by the report, were against ISIS tunnel systems, caves and safe houses.
Inherent Resolve does not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter whose investigations have covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.