WASHINGTON, , (Pakistan Point News - APP - 03rd Nov, 2016 ) - The Iraqi security forces' seemingly inexorable push toward Mosul saw fighting begin in the city itself this week, but it is work taking place in the skies above that has enabled such dramatic advances. A relentless air operation using planes and drones from a dozen or so members of a US-led coalition against the Islamic State group has over more than two years conducted some 16,000 air strikes against the jihadists in Iraq and Syria -- two-thirds of them in Iraq.
Mostly, coalition planes conducted "deliberate" strikes, where they destroyed targets acquired through intelligence or surveillance. "Now, it's almost entirely dynamic strikes," a US military official told reporters during a recent visit to the Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC), from where flights over Mosul and elsewhere are coordinated. Dynamic strikes occur when ground units need air support on an unexpected target, such as an enemy fighting position or a car bomb being driven across the desert.
"The operation in Mosul is the number one priority right now," another US military official said. Consider air activities in and around Mosul for just one day. On Wednesday, coalition planes destroyed an IS headquarters building, five storage containers, two mortar systems, two fighting positions, a bomb-making factory, a supply cache, a sniper position, an observation post and a culvert. The strikes also engaged two tactical units and damaged two tunnels, a bridge and a supply route, according to the coalition. Air support is given to Iraqi security forces and Kurdish fighters, but not Shiite militiamen, and the Iraqi military has its own planes.