The Guardian reports today, October 5, 2014, citing Syrian Kurdish officials, that US airstrikes against ISIS are not working:
Isis fighters have pushed to within little more than a mile of the centre of the city of Kobani, undeterred by western air strikes which are proving ineffective, a leading Kurdish official in the city has said.
Fighting between the Islamist militants and Syrian Kurds continued unabated despite another volley of coalition air strikes in and around the Kobani enclave, Idris Nassan, Kobani’s “foreign affairs minister”, told the Guardian.
“Air strikes alone are really not enough to defeat Isis in Kobani,” [Nassan] stressed. “They are besieging the city on three sides, and fighter jets simply cannot hit each and every Isis fighter on the ground.”
He added that Isis had adapted their tactics to military strikes from the air. “Each time a jet approaches they leave their open positions, they scatter and hide.”
This confirms what one should expect: airstrikes against mobile fighting units aren’t going to hit fighters who can and are dispersing before the airstrikes occur. They are not going to remain stationary like sitting ducks for the vaunted high-tech death-from-above machines to simply bombard them to death.
In addition, if ISIS fighters are in close proximity to civilians and/or to opposing fighters, then airstrikes cannot distinguish between them and are either going to kill many that are not the target of the airstrikes or the planes will have to refrain from the airstrikes altogether. As I pointed out recently, even the much touted drones that are oh so surgical take out 98% of those they kill and maim as “collateral damage.”
What is going on with the relentless airstrikes, by the way, happened in the 1960s and 1970s during the Vietnam War. The US government thought that it could defeat the North Vietnamese army and the Viet Cong by dropping more ordinance on Vietnam than all of the bombs used during WW II and by its 100,000+ troops on the ground.
Suffice it to say, it didn’t work.
In the case of Syria and Iraq, the US government is trying mightly to avoid committing large numbers of ground troops in a vain attempt from the air to prevent the wholesale take-over of the region that it has insisted is theirs. “It’s ours to dominate. Not yours!” It’s only a matter of time before the US government officially declares that it needs more boots on the ground. Meanwhile, terrible crimes are being committed in our name.
Dennis Loo is a member of the Steering Committee of World Can’t Wait.