US-led warplanes are pummelling the de-facto ISIS capital like never before

Smoke air strike syria kobaniUmit Bekas/ReutersSmoke rises after an U.S.-led air strike in the Syrian town of Kobani October 8, 2014. U.S.-led air strikes on Wednesday pushed Islamic State fighters back to the edges of the Syrian Kurdish border town of Kobani, which they had appeared set to seize after a three-week assault, local officials said.

The US-led coalition battling the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) has drastically intensified its air war against the militant group with strikes pummelling the group’s de-facto capital of Raqqa, Syria.

Since July 8, the coalition has conducted aerial strikes against more than 70 ISIS targets. One airstrike was responsible for bombing 20 ISIS staging areas around Raqqa, according to Brett McGurk, the US deputy special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS.

In addition to the strikes around Raqqa, the US-led coalition also destroyed ISIS fighting positions and tactical units in Tal Abyad, Kobani, Aleppo, and Al Bukamal in Syria, according to a press release from the coalition.

These sites in Syria have been the location of fierce fighting between US-backed Kurdish YPG forces and ISIS. Since the US began providing aerial supports to the Kurds, the YPG has steadily eaten away at ISIS territory in northern Syria. At the height of their push, the YPG advanced to within 30 miles of Raqqa.

In addition to the strikes in Syria, the US-led coalition carried out 14 additional airstrikes against 11 targets within Iraq. The strikes in Iraq destroyed heavy machinery, tactical positions, bunkers, and staging areas across much of the north and the west of the country.

“The coalition is committed to diminishing Daesh’s military capacity,” Brig. Gen. Kevin Killea, the chief of staff for the combined joint task force, said in a statement, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS. “Our disciplined targeting process and strike execution remain relentless in seeking out and prosecuting Daesh targets.”

The sudden ramp-up in airstrikes comes as President Barack Obama promised to escalate attacks against the militant group. The bombing runs against Raqqa were the most intense against ISIS since operations began last August, managing editor of ABC Jon Williams notes.

“Indeed, we’re intensifying our efforts against ISIL’s base in Syria,” Obama said during remarks at the Pentagon. “Our airstrikes will continue to target the oil and gas facilities that fund so much of their operations. We’re going after the ISIL leadership and infrastructure in Syria — the heart of ISIL that pumps funds and propaganda to people around the world.”

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