Military Wiki
Military intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Part of the Global War on Terrorism, Iraqi insurgency, Syrian Civil War, the Spillover of the Syrian Civil War,
and the 2014 Libyan Civil War
2014 military intervention against ISIS collage.png
Syria and Iraq 2014-onward War map.png
Top: Two U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft flying over northern Iraq. Left: F-22 Raptor refueling before a strike in Syria. Right: Peshmerga special forces gathered near Syria. Middle: An American F/A-18C Hornet aboard USS George H.W. Bush prior to the launch of operations over Iraq. Bottom: Map of the situation in Iraq and Syria, as of Script error: No such module "Iraq_Syria_map_date"..
Date13 June 2014 – present (8 years and 2 months)
LocationIraq, Syria, and Libya


  • Airstrikes on ISIL and al-Qaeda positions in Iraq, Syria, and Libya
  • Multinational humanitarian efforts
  • Arming and support for local ground forces
  • Hundreds of thousands of civilians in Iraq and Syria flee their homes to escape advancing ISIL forces
  • Thousands of civilians are executed by ISIL forces
  • 2 American journalists, 2 American humanitarian workers, 1 American oil worker, 2 British humanitarian workers, 1 French tourist executed, 1 Japanese journalist, 1 Japanese businessman, 1 Jordanian pilot, and 21 Coptic Egyptian Christians killed as hostages of ISIL[53][54][55][56]

U.S.-led coalitions:
Inherent Resolve.jpg Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve
Intervening in Iraq & Syria:
United States (Leader)
 United Kingdom[1][2]
 Iraqi Kurdistan (In Iraq, and in Kobanî, Syria)[7]

Only intervening in Iraq:
(trainers on ground)[15][16]
(exploratory, logistic support and trainers on ground)[17][18][19]
 New Zealand
(trainers on ground)[23][24]
(trainers on ground)[25]
(trainers on ground)[26]
 Turkey (trainers on ground)[27]

Only intervening in Syria:
 Saudi Arabia
 United Arab Emirates (resumed airstrikes on 7 February 2015)[28]

Intervening in Libya
United States (Surveillance flights)[29]
 United Arab Emirates
 Italy (Surveillance)


Iranian intervention:


Local forces in Iraq:
Iraq Iraq Government (supported by U.S. & allies & Iran)
Shi'a militias: (supported by Iran)[46]

Iraqi Kurdistan Iraqi Kurdistan
Nineveh Plain Protection Units

Local forces in Syria:

Selected groups in the Syrian Opposition (U.S. & allies)
Syrian Kurdistan Syrian Kurdistan (U.S. & allies, & foreign Kurds)

Local Syrian guerrillas[47]

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant


Ahrar ash-Sham (disputed)[52]
Commanders and leaders

Barack Obama
Lloyd Austin
Tony Abbott
David L. Johnston
Charles Michel
Steven Vandeput
Stephen Harper
Thomas J. Lawson
Helle Thorning-Schmidt
Peter Bartram
France François Hollande[57]
France Pierre de Villiers
Angela Merkel
Ursula von der Leyen
Matteo Renzi
Claudio Graziano
Abdullah II
Abdullah Ensour
Netherlands Mark Rutte
Sander Schnitger
John Key
Tim Keating
Pedro Passos Coelho
José Pedro Aguiar-Branco
Saudi Arabia King Abdullah
Saudi Arabia King Salman
Mariano Rajoy
Pedro Morenés
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Ahmet Davutoğlu
David Cameron
Andrew Pulford

Iran Ali Khamenei
Iran Hasan Rouhani
Iran Qasem Soleimani
Hassan Nasrallah

Masoud Barzani
Jaafar Sheikh Mustafa
Mustafa Said Qadir

Iraq Fuad Masum
Iraq Nouri al-Maliki
Iraq Haider al-Abadi

File:Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq flag.svg Qais al-Khazali
File:Badr Organisation Military flag.svg Hadi al-Amiri

Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
Libya Aguila Saleh Issa

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (Leader)
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Abu Mohammad al-Adnani (Spokesperson)
Abu Ayman al-Iraqi (Head of Military Shura)[58]
Abu Muslim al-Turkmani (Deputy Leader, Iraq)[59]
Abu Ali al-Anbari (Deputy Leader, Syria)
Abu Omar al-Shishani (Field commander in Syria)[60][61]
Abu Nabil Al Anbari (ISIL commander of North Africa) File:Wilayat Barqa.JPG Muhammand Abdullah (Top ISIL Judge in Derna)
File:Wilayat Barqa.JPG Salah Benali[62]
Ali Al Qarqaa (ISIL Emir of Nofaliya)

Flag of the Al-Nusra Front.svg Abu Mohammad al-Julani (Leader of the al-Nusra Front)
Abu Muhammed al Ansari
(al-Nusra Emir of the Idlib province)
Muhsin al-Fadhli (Leader of Khorasan)[63][64]
David Drugeon (WIA)[64]

Abu Jaber[65]



Ahrar ash-Sham:

Casualties and losses

United States United States:

Jordan Jordan:

France France:

United Kingdom United Kingdom:

  • 2 civilians executed[159]

Japan Japan

Iran Iran:

Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia:

  • 3 border guards killed[168]


Iraqi Kurdistan Iraqi Kurdistan:

Egypt Egypt

  • 21 civilians executed[175]


Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant:

  • 6,000+ militants killed in Iraq and Syria[178]
  • 70 militants killed in Libya[135][179]
  • 58 tanks, 158 Humvees, 303 pickup trucks, 26 armored vehicles, and 394 other vehicles damaged or destroyed[139]


Ahrar ash-Sham:

56 Syrian civilians killed in airstrikes[180]
7 civilians killed by airstrikes in Libya[182]
Over 5,000 civilians executed by ISIL (UN)[183]

Over 850,000 civilians in Iraq and Syria displaced, or fled to Turkey and other countries[184][185][186]

In response to advances made by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (abbreviated ISIL or ISIS, and calling itself the "Islamic State") militants in June and July 2014, many states began to intervene in the ongoing civil wars in Syria and Iraq, and eventually, in Libya. Rapid territorial gains from ISIL military operations in Iraq and Syria during the first half of 2014, combined with internationally condemned brutality, reported human rights abuses, and the fear of further spillovers of the Syrian Civil War caused many countries to consider interventions.[187]

Iran and its ally Hezbollah were the first that took direct action on the ground supported by fighters and drones. The United States started sending (non-operational) troops to Iraq in the midsummer of 2014, and began a large-scale air campaign over the region starting that August. With different agendas and political considerations in a complex situation, countries have approached intervening in the two civil war conflicts in different ways, and to different degrees.

On 1 February 2015, Iraq's Prime Minister declared that the War on ISIL was effectively "World War III", due to ISIL's declaration of a Worldwide Caliphate, its aims to conquer the world, and its success in spreading the conflict to multiple countries outside of the Levant region.[188]

American-led intervention in Iraq

Starting in August 2014, the United States assembled a coalition of partner countries to combat ISIL. Various countries contributed aircraft, military aid to local ground forces, military advisors to train local forces in-country, and bases for operations and training of local ground forces. In addition to military efforts, many countries mounted a considerable humanitarian effort to assist ethnic minorities in northern Iraq who are under the threat of genocide or had fled from ISIL in Iraqi Kurdistan and other areas.

In August, speaking about U.S. involvement in Iraq, President Barack Obama said "this is going to be a long-term project."[189] The military effort was subsequently expanded to protect Iraqi infrastructure and provide air cover to Iraqi troops. Since the commencement and expansion of U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State, Kurdish and Iraqi forces have been able to reverse significant extremist advances and retake control of the Mosul Dam, the largest dam in Iraq. In late August, when asked by reporters about his plans regarding military options in response to gains made by ISIS, President Obama replied "we don't have a strategy yet."[190] President Obama announced on 10 September 2014 that he would begin to pursue airstrikes in Syria with or without congressional approval; he also announced that the number of airstrikes in Iraq would increase.[191]

Humanitarian efforts

Bottled water containers are loaded on a U.S. Air Force C-17 for an airdrop on 8 August 2014.

The U.S., the UK, and Australia, supported by international partners, launched a large humanitarian effort to support refugees stranded in northern Iraq. This included air-dropping tens of thousands of meals and thousands of gallons of drinking water to Yazidi refugees stranded in the Sinjar Mountains and threatened by advancing ISIL forces, between 7–14 August 2014, in what was later described as "the first mass air delivery of humanitarian cargo since the outbreak of violence in East Timor in 1999."[192][193][194][195][196]

Thousands of Yazidis and other Iraqi civilians fled to the area following attacks on their villages and the town of Sinjar throughout late July and early August 2014.

Several human rights and observer organizations in the region reported that those who fled to the mountains were subjected to starvation, and lacked clean drinking water and medical care for several months as ISIL militants surrounded them. Hundreds of men, women, and children were abducted and killed.

In response to the immediate threat to the approximately 30,000 people trapped on the mountain, coalition aircraft commenced humanitarian aid drops. These air drops included basic supplies such as food, water, and shelter and were conducted at low flight levels by coalition transport aircraft under the threat of ISIL surface-to-air attacks.

In direct support of humanitarian aid drops, CF-18’s provided top cover for a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) C-130 Hercules transport aircraft on 20 November, ensuring the transport crew was able to safely parachute supplies to waiting refugees below. Canadian fighter jets remained in close proximity to the transport aircraft to protect it from ISIL surface-to-air threats or attacks.[197]

American military actions

American airstrikes

President Obama speaks about the "game plan" for dealing with ISIL.

Locations where the U.S. has launched airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq (as of 16 September 2014.)

U.S. Navy F/A-18 fighters bomb Islamic State artillery targets on 8 August 2014.

In the summer of 2014, U.S. forces started undertaking reconnaissance missions over northern Iraq.[198][199][200] On 7 August, President Obama gave a live address describing the worsening conditions in Iraq and that the plight of the Yazidis particular had convinced him that U.S. military action was necessary to protect American lives, protect minority groups in Iraq, and to stop a possible ISIL advance on Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish Autonomous Region.[201] On 8 August, the United States started to bomb ISIL targets in Iraq.[202][203] By 10 August, assisted by these air attacks, Kurdish forces claimed to have recaptured the towns of Mahmour and Gweyr[204] from Islamic State control. Additional Iraqi airstrikes conducted in Sinjar were reported to have killed 45 ISIL militants and injured an additional 60 militants.[205] The Pentagon characterized airstrikes as stopgap military actions that would not be able to significantly disrupt Islamic State activities.[206] On 14 August, U.S. airstrikes and Kurdish ground forces had broken the ISIL siege of Mount Sinjar, allowing thousands of Yazidi refugees to escape.[207]

The U.S. announced a shift in focus to arming the Kurds and reversing ISIL gains.[208][209] On 16 August, U.S. air power began a close air campaign aimed at supporting the advance of Kurdish fighters moving toward the Mosul Dam. Kurdish sources commented that it was "heaviest US bombing of militant positions since the start of air strikes".[210][211] On 8 September, the Iraqi Army, with close air support from the U.S., retook the key Haditha Dam, and recaptured the town of Barwana, killing 15 ISIL fighters.[212] ISIL responded with the public execution of David Haines.[159]

By the end of September 2014, the United States had conducted 240 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, as well as 1,300 tanker refueling missions, totaling 3,800 sorties by all types of aircraft. A tactical arrangement with Kurdish and Iraqi forces, and drone videos are being used to coordinate close air support without needing U.S. troops in ground combat.[213]

On 19 December 2014, US General James Terry announced that the number of US airstrikes on ISIL had increased to 1,361.[214]

On 25 December 2014, Hassan Saeed Al-Jabouri, the ISIL governor of Mosul, who was also known as Abu Taluut, was killed by a US-led Coalition airstrike in Mosul. It was also reported that the US planned to retake the city of Mosul in January 2015.[215]

On 15 January 2015, it was reported that over 16,000 airstrikes had been carried out by the Coalition. The U.S. Air Force has carried out around 60 percent of all strikes. Among them, F-16 performed 41 percent of all sorties, followed by the F-15E at 37 percent, then the A-10 at 11 percent, the B-1 bomber at eight percent, and the F-22 at 3 percent. The remaining 40 percent has been carried out by the US Navy and allied nations.[216]

On 20 January 2015, the SOHR reported that al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIL, had been wounded in an airstrike in Al-Qa'im, an Iraqi border town held by ISIL, and as a result, withdrew to Syria.[217]

On 21 January 2015, the US began coordinating airstrikes with a Kurdish launched offensive, to help them begin the planned operation to retake the city of Mosul.[218]

American ground forces

In July, Obama announced that due to the continuing violence in Iraq and the growing influence of non-state organizations, such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the United States would be elevating its security commitment in the region. Approximately 800 U.S. troops secured American installations like the Embassy in Baghdad and the Consulate in Erbil as well as taking control of strategic locations like the Baghdad airport in cooperation with Iraqi troops.[219][220]

U.S. forces also undertook a mission to "assess and to advise [Iraqi security forces] as they confront [ISIL] and the complex security situation on the ground."[221] Reports from these American units about the capabilities of the Iraqi military have been consistently grim, viewing them as "compromised" by sectarian interests.[222][223][224]

On 13 August 2014, the U.S. deployed another 130 military advisers to Northern Iraq[225] and up to 20 U.S. Marines and special forces servicemen landed on Mount Sinjar from V-22 aircraft to coordinate the evacuation of Yazidi refugees joining British SAS already in the area.[125]

On 3 September 2014, Obama announced increase of U.S. forces in Iraq to 1,213.[226] On 10 September, Obama gave a speech reiterating that U.S. troops will not fight in combat, but about 500 more troops will be sent to Iraq to help train Iraqi forces.[191]

In early November 2014, Obama announced that he would be doubling the U.S. ground presence inside Iraq to around 3,000 men.[68] By early December 2014, the number of U.S. ground troops in Iraq had increased to 3,100.[69]

On 9 December 2014, the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations authorized U.S. Military force against ISIL. However, it limits military force to three years, requires the administration to report to Congress every 60 days, and prohibits the deployment of U.S. combat troops, except in specific cases, such as those involving the rescue or protection of U.S. soldiers, or for intelligence operations.[227]

During the early morning hours of 14 December 2014, U.S. ground forces allegedly clashed with ISIL alongside the Iraqi Army and Tribal Forces near the Ain al-Assad Airbase, west of Anbar, in an attempt to repel them from the base of which includes about 100 U.S. advisers in it, when ISIL attempted to overrun the base. According to a field commander of the Iraqi Army in Anbar province, said that "the U.S. force equipped with light and medium weapons, supported by F-18, was able to inflict casualties against fighters of ISIL organization, and forced them to retreat from the al-Dolab area, which lies 10 kilometers from Ain al-Assad base." Sheikh Mahmud Nimrawi, a prominent tribal leader in the region, added that "U.S. forces intervened because of ISIL started to come near the base, which they are stationed in so out of self-defense," he responded, welcoming the U.S. intervention, and saying "which I hope will not be the last."[228][229][230][231][232] This was said to be the first encounter between the United States and the Islamic State, in four years. However, this claim has been stated to be "false" by The Pentagon.[233][234]

On 5 January 2015 The Pentagon acknowledged that ISIL has been ineffectively mortaring the base.[235]

The late naming of Operation Inherent Resolve

Unlike their coalition partners, and unlike previous American combat operations, no name was initially given to the 2014 intervention against ISIL by the U.S. government.[236] The decision to keep the conflict nameless drew considerable media criticism.[237][238][239][240][241] U.S. Service members remain ineligible for Campaign Medals and other service decorations due to the continuing ambiguous nature of the continuing U.S. involvement in Iraq.[242]

On 15 October 2014, the United States Central Command announced that the U.S.-led air campaign against ISIL in Iraq and Syria was henceforth designated as Operation Inherent Resolve.[243] The CENTCOM news release noted:

"According to CENTCOM officials, the name INHERENT RESOLVE is intended to reflect the unwavering resolve and deep commitment of the U.S. and partner nations in the region and around the globe to eliminate the terrorist group ISIL and the threat they pose to Iraq, the region and the wider international community. It also symbolizes the willingness and dedication of coalition members to work closely with our friends in the region and apply all available dimensions of national power necessary—diplomatic, informational, military, economic—to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL."[243]

Australian airstrikes

On 3 October, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the Australian cabinet approved for RAAF Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet fighter bombers to begin airstrikes against Islamic State militants. Abbott said "It is in our national interest that we do so, it is in the interests of civilisation that we do so. It is in everyone's best interests that the murderous rage of the ISIL death cult be checked and rolled back and that's what we're determined to do."[244]

On 6 October, Air Chief Marshall Mark Binskin announced two Super Hornets had conducted armed combat missions over Iraq although no armaments were expended. An Australian Air task Group KC-30A and an E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft have also been flying in support to fighter bombers belonging to coalition forces. The KC-30A performs airborne refueling for coalition aircraft.[245] Binskin said "One of our Super Hornet packages on the first night … had an identified target which it was tracking and that particular target moved into an urban area where the risks of conducting a strike on that target increased to a point where it exceeded our expectations of collateral damage, so they discontinued the attack at that point."[246]

On 9 October, Prime Minister Tony Abbott confirmed that RAAF Super Hornets had been involved in a "strike missions on an ISIL position in Iraq".[247] The aircraft dropped two bombs onto an isolated building which ISIL was using as a command and control centre.[248]

As of 17 October, the Royal Australian Air Force had conducted 43 combat sorties over Iraq.[249] Recent strikes had targeted equipment facilities, with "at least two" resulting in ISIL casualties after Australian aircraft had increased the number of missions flown to allow U.S. and coalition forces to assist Kurdish fighters around Kobanî, in northern Syria.[250][251]

British airstrikes

U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush sailing with Royal Navy destroyer HMS Defender in the Persian Gulf on 1 October 2014.

On 12 August 2014, the United Kingdom deployed six Tornado GR4 strike aircraft to RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus to help coordinate British humanitarian aid airdrops in Northern Iraq.[252] On 16 August, following the suspension of humanitarian aid airdrops, these aircraft, along with an RC-135 Rivet Joint, were re-tasked to provide aerial surveillance to coalition forces.[253]

In early September, Prime Minister David Cameron began to voice his support for British airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq.[254] On 26 September, Parliament was recalled and MP's debated whether or not to authorise airstrikes. The seven-hour debate resulted in overwhelming support for airstrikes, with 524 votes in favour and 43 votes against.[255]

On 27 September, the first armed reconnaissance mission took place over Northern Iraq. A patrol of two Tornado GR4's left RAF Akrotiri armed with Paveway IV laser-guided bombs. The patrol did not identify any targets requiring immediate air attack and so gathered vital intelligence for coalition forces instead. The aircraft were supported by a Voyager aerial refueling tanker.[118]

On 30 September, the Royal Air Force conducted its first airstrike. A patrol of two Tornado GR4's engaged a heavy weapon position with a Paveway IV laser-guided bomb and an armed pickup truck with a Brimstone air-to-surface missile.[256]

The British contribution to the intervention has steadily increased since it first began on 26 September. On 3 October, two additional Tornado GR4's were deployed to Cyprus to compliment the original six.[257] It was also revealed during the same month that the Royal Navy had been involved in a support role, with air defence destroyer HMS Defender providing escort to U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush as she launched aircraft into Iraq and Syria.[258] Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg also disclosed during an interview that there was a nuclear attack submarine armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles deployed to the Persian Gulf.[123] On 16 October, the Ministry of Defence announced it would deploy armed MQ-9 Reaper drones to Iraq to assist with surveillance, however, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon stated that "If strike operations are required then Reaper has the ability to complement the sorties RAF Tornados have already completed".[259] On 7 November, the Ministry of Defence announced it would double the number of Reaper aircraft deployed to the Middle East.[260] The first Reaper drone strike was conducted by the RAF in Bayji, north of Baghdad on 10 November 2014, against a group of ISIL militants which had been laying improvised explosive devices in the area. A single Hellfire missile was used to conduct the strike.[261]

In addition to operating over Iraq, the Royal Air Force has also been operating over Syria in a surveillance role since 21 October, making the UK the only Western country other than the United States to intervene in both countries simultaneously.[2]

According to Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, the UK had conducted a "huge number of missions" over Iraq by 13 December 2014, second only to the United States and five times as many as France.[128] This totaled 6,700 hours of surveillance, reconnaissance, refueling and strike missions by 22 January 2015.[262] On 16 January 2015, during a joint press conference at the White House alongside President Barack Obama, Prime Minister David Cameron stated that the UK was the second-largest contributor to the anti-ISIL coalition, contributing over 100 airstrikes.[263]

Canadian airstrikes

The Canadian contribution has been codenamed Operation Impact by the Canadian Department of National Defence.[264][265] Canadian aircraft left for the Middle East to join in airstrikes on 21 October. In total, six CF-18 fighter jets, an Airbus CC-150 Polaris air-to-air refueling tanker and two CP-140 Aurora surveillance aircraft were sent, along with 700 military personnel.

Canadian CF-18 fighter jets completed their first operational flights departing from Kuwait on 31 October.[266] The first Canadian airstrikes began on 2 November.[267] Canada also flew an extra CF-18 to Kuwait to be used as a spare if the need arises, however a maximum of six are authorized to fly with the coalition missions.[268]

On 4 November 2014, Canadian Air Force CF-18s successfully destroyed ISIL construction equipment using GBU-12 bombs. The construction equipment was being used to divert the Euphrates River to deny villages water, and to flood roads, diverting traffic to areas with IEDs.[269]

On 12 November 2014, Canadian jets destroyed ISIL artillery just outside the Northern Iraqi town of Baiji.[270] Airstrikes continued throughout December and into January 2015 totaling 28 strike missions.[271] It was then reported that Canadian special forces troops, which had been highlighting targets for airstrikes, had engaged in fighting after coming under attack.[271][272]

French airstrikes

On 19 September, the French air force used its Rafale jets to conduct airstrikes on ISIL targets in Mosul. The airstrikes were approved by French President François Hollande, which indicated that France was committed to fighting ISIL using air power alongside America.[57] Hollande mentioned that no ground troops would be used in the conflict. Since 20 November 2014, France deployed 7 Dassault Rafale, 6 Mirage 2000D, 1 Falcon 50, 1 anti-aircraft frigate Jean-Bart, and 1 Atlantique 2 patrol aircraft.[273]

Jordanian airstrikes

After a downed Jordanian pilot, Muath al-Kasasbeh was executed by ISIL by being burned to death, King Abdullah II vowed revenge and temporarily took the lead in the bombing raids on ISIL during February 2015. After 72 hours of heavy bombing, up to 20% of ISIL's core strength was allegedly degraded.

Military aid

On 5 August 2014, Zalmay Khalilzad, the former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and the U.N., wrote in the Washington Post that the United States is involved in "the direct supply of munitions to the Kurds and, with Baghdad's agreement, the shipment of some Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program weapons to the Kurds."[274] The United States moved from indirectly supplying Kurdistan with small arms through the CIA to directly giving them weapons such as man-portable anti-tank systems.[275]

In a coordinated effort led by the United States, many allied countries including NATO members and Middle Eastern partners have supplied or plan to supply Iraqi and/or Kurdish forces with heavy military equipment, small arms, ammunition, non-lethal military gear, and training support.

Rand Paul, the Kentucky senator, accused the U.S. Government of arming ISIL.[276][277] The U.S. government has been funding ISIL's allies such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar and supporting the terrorist group in Syria, Paul has told NBC News’s ‘Meet the Press'.[276] "I think one of the reasons why ISIL has been emboldened is because we have been arming their allies. We have been allied with ISIL in Syria," Paul said to CNN.[277]

Iranian intervention in Iraq (2014–present)

In June 2014, Iran committed approximately 500 soldiers of the elite Qods Force to Iraq to help shore-up that nation's government in the face of ISIL advances.[129] Qods Force personnel were deployed to Samarra, Baghdad, Karbala, and the abandoned U.S. military post formerly known as Camp Speicher. On 25 July, Qods Force soldier Shojaat Alamdari was killed in Samarra while operating as a forward air controller in action against ISIL.[131] Reports have indicated that former Qods Force commander Qassem Suleimani is acting as the Iraqi government's "chief tactician" during the anti-ISIS operations.[129][131] Seven Su-25 aircraft and some drones[131] were sent by Iran, where they operated against ISIL with bi-national Iranian/Iraqi crews. Direct airstrikes of ISIS positions by the Iranian air force were first reported in June 2014,[278] and confirmed in early December of that year[279]

Turkish intervention

For a while in the late summer and early fall, it appeared that Turkey would join the anti-ISIL coalition, and while fighting on its southern border resulted in shots being fired into Turkey itself, it refused to join, causing blowback and rioting throughout the country.

A joint communiqué issued by the United States and 10 Arab states to stop the flow of volunteers to ISIL was signed by all participating countries except Turkey.[280]

On 2 October, Turkey also lined up tanks on its southern border near the border city of Kobanî, with the tanks pointed at the border.[281]

Turkey demanded several things to go along with their intervention including a buffer zone in Northern Syria, a no-fly zone over certain parts of Syria, ground troops from other countries, and training moderate opposition forces to fight ISIL and Assad.[282][283]

Training of Kurdish Peshmerga

Turkish soldiers are training Kurdish peshmerga fighters in northern Iraq and will give similar assistance to a new national army unit in Baghdad as part of the struggle against ISIL.[284]

January 2014 Turkish airstrike

On 28 January 2014, the Turkish air force performed an airstrike on Syrian territory, allegedly aiming to hit an ISIS convoy inside Syria.[285] According to Turkish General staff, a pickup, a truck and a bus in an ISIL convoy were destroyed".[285] Turkish officials also said the 28 January attack was meant to retaliate for ISIL fire on the Turkish Army along the Syrian border. They also cited ISIL raids on ethnic Turkish communities in northern Syria, which sparked an exodus of thousands to Turkey. The Turkish attack came amid threats by ISIL to expand operations into Turkey – a NATO state.[285]

Other involvement across the conflict zone

Iraqi Kurdistan and Syrian Kurdistan have de facto governments autonomous from the national governments, with their own armies, while in Iran and Turkey, the Kurds maintain rebel armies. These various Kurdish forces have been crossing into Syria and Iraq to fight ISIL with local Kurds. The U.S.-led coalition is not known to be coordinating directly with the intervening Iranian or Turkish Kurds, but is coordinating with the Iraqi and Syrian Kurds. There are also the No Surrender Banditos and the Median Empire Motorcycle Club biker club members from the Netherlands and Germany, fighting alongside Kurdish forces against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Shia militias, such as the Khorasani Brigade, have occupied Sunni villages formerly controlled by ISIL. In the village of Yengija, 50 miles (80 km) south of Kirkuk, the Sunni population was expelled and their homes were razed.[286]

American-led military intervention in Syria

Hostage rescue attempt

On 4 July 2014, the U.S. bombed the "Osama bin Laden" ISIL military base in the village of Uqayrishah, Syria. Two dozen American Delta Force commandos then touched down in an effort to rescue hostages, including James Foley.[150][287][288][289] In a series of videos, Foley, Steven Joel Sotloff, and several more hostages were murdered.[290][291]

Aerial surveillance

On 26 August 2014, the U.S. began sending surveillance flights, including drones, into Syria to gather intelligence. The Syrian Arab Republic was not asked for permission.[292][293]

Arming and training rebels

United States

At the direction of President Obama, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency played an active role since the early stages of the Syrian Civil War. The U.S. originally supplied the moderate rebels of the Free Syrian Army with non-lethal aid but soon escalated to providing training, cash, and intelligence to selected rebel commanders.[294][295][296]

On 17 September 2014, the House of Representatives voted to authorize spending to train and arm moderate Syrian rebels.[297]

Saudi Arabia

According to the United States Department of Defense, Saudi Arabia has proposed that they would provide training to Syrian rebels so they could return to Syria and battle ISIL.[298]

Multi-national airstrikes

Starting on 22 September 2014, the U.S., Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates began airstrikes against ISIL targets in Syria[299] with fighters, bombers, and sea-based Tomahawk cruise missiles.[300] Strikes continue to take place in Syria daily. Additionally, on the first night, U.S. forces launched eight cruise missile strikes against the al-Qaeda-affiliated Khorasan.[301] In early November early December 2014, the U.S. launched additional airstrikes against the same group. In November 2014, Morocco sent 3 F-16s to be deployed in UAE, to fight ISIL in Iraq and Syria under U.S.-led Operations.[4][5][6]

On 24 December 2014, ISIL shot down a Jordanian fighter jet over Syria and captured and it's pilot, Jordanian air force lieutenant Muath Al-Kasasbeh. Al-Kasabeh was offered in exchange for captured ISIL fighters. Jordan offered to make the exchange, but demanded "proof of life" first. However, Al-Kasabeh had already been executed by immolation. When video of the pilot's execution was released, the fighters, Sajida al-Rishawi and Ziad al-Karbouli, were executed.[302]

Other foreign interventions in Syria

The Syrian Civil War functions as a proxy war and has had many foreign interventions supporting various sides in the conflict. The Independent reported that Qatar had funded the Syrian rebellion by as much as $3 billion.[303] There have also been actions taken by all adjoining nations impacted by spillover. Significant humanitarian aid has been provided to conflict victims.

Egyptian-led military intervention in Libya

Egyptian military actions

After ISIL killed 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya,[304] Egypt began conducting airstrikes on ISIL targets in Libya on 16 February 2015, killing a total of 64 ISIL militants (50 in Derna) by the end of that day.[179] Warplanes acting under orders from the "official" Libyan government also struck targets in Derna, reportedly in coordination with Egypt's airstrikes.[305] A Libyan official stated that more joint airstrikes would follow.[305]

Other foreign interventions in Libya

Concern over ISIL activities in Derna in December 2014 led to US drones and electronic surveillance planes making "constant flights" from Italian bases, over the district of Derna.[29] Italy also began conducting surveillance flights over Libya.

ISIL forces


Conflict Armament Research, a private arms-tracking organization, has concluded that ISIL military forces are using ammunition of United States and Chinese manufacture. According to CAR, these are most likely munitions transferred by the U.S. and Chinese governments to regional actors for use against ISIL troops which are being captured as local forces disintegrate.[306] A U.S. Department of Defense Inspector-General report concluded that the U.S. had lost track of nearly 250,000 small arms that were provided to the security forces of Afghanistan; some of this quantity may have made its way into ISIS hands. In addition to small arms and ammunition, heavy equipment is frequently or often of American manufacture. Over a six-week period in late summer and early fall, the U.S. Air Force destroyed at least three dozen U.S.-made Humvees being operated by ISIL, which were originally donated by the U.S. to the Iraqi army.[307]


Early estimates put ISIL forces at about 10,000; however, in September 2014, the Central Intelligence Agency increased its estimate to a high of 31,500 ground troops.[308] Additionally, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) estimated ISIL forces totaling 80,000–100,000 (up to 50,000 in Syria and 30,000 in Iraq).[309] However, by November 2014, the Chief of Staff of Iraqi Kurdistan estimated that ISIL had a total of 200,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria.[134]


In early February 2015, the Australian Defence Minister, Kevin Andrews, stated that more than 6,000 ISIL fighters had been killed in coalition airstrikes since they began, and that over 800 square kilometres (310 sq mi) had been recaptured; yet ISIL strength was estimated to have grown during this period to around 31,500 core fighters, including 3,000 fighters from Western nations.[310]

In literature

The Scriptwriter is the first novel written by a Muslim author on ISIL. The novel's plot revolves around the U.S. attack on ISIL.[311]

See also


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