Ahead of President Obama’s address to the nation on combating ISIL, the Pentagon said Wednesday that U.S. warplanes had conducted 154 airstrikes to date in Iraq that hit a total of 212 targets, including 162 vehicles.
The Pentagon also said that U.S. troops in Iraq now numbered about 1,043, plus about 100 others in the Baghdad Office of Security and Cooperation for weapons sales, for a total of about 1,143 to guard against the extremists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
The total number included 754 troops providing security for U.S. personnel and facilities at the U.S. Embassy in Baghad and at the Baghdad airport, and 289 manning Joint Operations Centers in Baghdad and the Kurdish capital of Irbil and also advising the Iraqi security forces and Kurdish peshmerga forces.
The airstrikes have been carried out at a rate of nearly five daily by a mix of fighters, bombers and drones since Obama authorized attacks against ISIL on Aug. 8, according to U.S. Central Command.
In its first detailed accounting of the airstrikes, the Pentagon said that of the total of 154, the most concentrated have been in northern Iraq in the area of the Mosul dam, which was recaptured from ISIL last month by Iraqi and Kurdish forces.
The airstrikes around Mosul dam totaled 91 through Wednesday morning, the Pentagon said. There were also 29 airstrikes around Irbil, 17 around the Haditha dam in Anbar province, 13 in the northern Sinjar mountains, and four around the northeastern town of Amerli, which had been encircled by ISIL before the siege was lifted.
The number of vehicles destroyed was 162, including 88 armed vehicles, 37 Humvees, 12 armored personnel carriers, two tanks, one Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle, one construction vehicle and 21 miscellaneous vehicles, the Pentagon said.
The airstrikes also destroyed a total of 21 ISIL weapons systems, including seven anti-aircraft artillery weapons, seven Improvised Explosive Device emplacements, five mortar positions, one machine gun location and one weapons cache, the Pentagon said.
The list of 29 ISIL facilities destroyed by the airstrikes included 12 fighting positions, 10 checkpoints, one command post, one bunker and one large ground unit, the Pentagon said without further identifying the large ground unit.
In addition, the U.S. has carried out two humanitarian airdrop operations with support from Britain, Canada, Australia and France, the Pentagon said.
Near Mount Sinjar, where members of the Yazidi sect were under siege by ISIL, U.S. aircraft conducted 28 airdrops, delivering 680,000 pounds of aid, including 35,000 gallons of water and 115,000 Meals Ready to Eat (MREs).
Near Amerli, the U.S. military conducted four airdrops to deliver 138,500 pounds of aid, including 10,500 gallons of water and 7,000 MREs.