The US seems to be shouldering most of the burden in the fight against ISIS, according to new statistics from the Pentagon.
The US-led coalition of 65 countries fighting the terrorist group also known as the Islamic State has carried out 8,289 airstrikes total as of November 19. Of those strikes, the US has conducted 6,471, as The New York Times pointed out.
And of the 65 countries that are part of the coalition, only 12 countries have participated in the air campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Just 24 of those countries participate in the coalition’s quarterly meetings, according to The Times.
Some countries are included in the coalition simply because of their anti-terrorism policies, the publication noted.
The UK is currently only bombing targets in Iraq, but Prime Minister David Cameron is planning to ask parliament this week for permission to launch airstrikes in Syria. France stepped up airstrikes in Syria after ISIS-linked terrorists carried out attacks in Paris earlier this month, and Russia (which is not part of the coalition) entered the fray in September.
From the start of operations in August of last year until October 31 of this year, the coalition has spent $5 billion on the fight against ISIS.
State Department spokesman John Kirby defended the coalition at a press briefing earlier this month, according to The Times.
« It’s a coalition of the willing, which means every nation has to be willing to contribute what they can, » he said. He added that while not every country can conduct airstrikes, « that doesn’t mean that other nations’ contributions aren’t important. »
The new Pentagon figures also showed the extent of the damage to Iraq and Syria since operations began:
Airstrikes and ground fights between jihadists and regional forces have damaged some cities to the point of being nearly uninhabitable.
The coalition is now ramping up airstrikes on the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, Syria, in an effort to oust the jihadists from their de-facto capital.
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