Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 14, 2016

Pentagon Claims 2,750 Air Strikes Killed Just 500 Enemies

The Pentagon claims to have tens of thousands of Islamic State fighters by airstrikes. But, according to the published numbers, only very few were killed this year. At the same time the number of Islamic State fighters the Pentagon says are active and alive has remained essentially the same for over two years.

According to Pentagon claims documented below, just some 500 Islamic State fighters were killed by U.S. airstrikes in 2016. But its own Airpower Summary March 2016 says that between January and March 2,781 ground attack sorties were flown in Iraq and Syria with at least one weapon release each. Such a high sortie to kill rate is unprecedented. Who, if not Islamic State fighters, is the U.S. bombing?

Here is a list of the "Islamic State fighters killed" Pentagon claims:

January 22 2015
U.S. envoy to Iraq makes bold claim in ISIS fight

The Al Arabiya News Channel quoted Ambassador Stuart Jones in an interview published Thursday as saying U.S. estimates were that "the airstrikes have now killed more than 6,000 ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq."

June 4 2015
U.S. official: 10,000-plus ISIS fighters killed in 9-month campaign

Paris (CNN)The U.S.-led coalition against ISIS has recorded more than 10,000 ISIS deaths since the campaign against the extremist group began nine months ago, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken told France Inter radio.

July 29 2015
Islamic State recruiting offsets 15,000 killed by airstrikes in past year

WASHINGTON — In a sign of its resilience, the Islamic State appears to have recruited new fighters to offset 15,000 militants killed in a U.S.-led airstrike campaign approaching its first anniversary, U.S. military and intelligence estimates show.
The U.S.-led coalition confirmed the 15,000 casualty number but would not discuss it publicly.

October 12 2015
ISIL death toll at 20,000, but 'stalemate' continues

The U.S.-led bombing campaign has killed an estimated 20,000 Islamic State fighters, an increase from the 15,000 the Pentagon reported in July, according to a senior military officer.

November 30 2015
Islamic State defections mount as death toll rises, U.S. official says

Top military officials estimate that the campaign has killed 23,000 Islamic State fighters, raising their death toll by 3,000 since mid-October.

January 7 2016
Coalition Airstrikes Killed 2,500 ISIS Fighters in December: Pentagon

U.S. and coalition airstrikes in December killed an estimated 2,500 Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria and another 60 in the first few days of January, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad said Wednesday.

In January the Pentagon claimed about 25,560 Islamic State fighters were killed in airstrikes which makes the next claims rather weird.

April 13 2016
U.S. Military Campaign Takes Toll on ISIS’ Cash Flow

WASHINGTON — American airstrikes have killed 25,000 Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria and incinerated millions of dollars plundered by the militants, according to Pentagon officials.

April 13 2016
Pentagon claims 26,000 ISIS fighters dead in Iraq, Syria

The Pentagon claims the battle to defeat and destroy the terror group ISIS is going well, citing the fact that more than 26,000 isis terrorists have been killed. CNN's Jim Sciutto reports.

So the Pentagon now says that only 440 Islamic State fighter were killed by its airstrikes since January 7? Looking at its previous claimed kill rates that number does not make sense. Or did the U.S. stop fighting the Islamic State?

Also unconvincing is the total number of Islamic State fighters the Pentagon and CIA claim. Despite all the claimed airstrike kills that number stays steady at some 30,000 since 2014. This while the foreign fighters contingent in ISIS alone is claimed to be at that size.

September 12 2014
ISIS can 'muster' between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters, CIA says

A CIA assessment puts the number of ISIS fighters at possibly more than three times the previous estimates.

The terror group that calls itself the Islamic State "can muster between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters across Iraq and Syria," a CIA spokesman told CNN on Thursday.

September 27 2015
Up to 30,000 foreign fighters went to Syria and Iraq, report says

US intelligence fears nearly 30,000 foreign fighters have traveled to Iraq and Syria since 2011, many of them to join the Islamic State group, The New York Times reported Saturday.
The New York Times' report cites anonymous "intelligence and law enforcement officials."

October 9 2015
The Pentagon's Syria debacle

U.S. intelligence officials believe there are as many as 30,000 Islamic State fighters in Syria and Iraq, plus a patchwork of extremist groups such as the Al Nusra Front.

January 7 2016
Coalition Airstrikes Killed 2,500 ISIS Fighters in December: Pentagon

Despite the losses, however, ISIS still has between 20,000 and 30,000 fighters in its ranks, [Army Col. Steve Warren, a spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve,] said.

Posted by b on April 14, 2016 at 13:05 UTC | Permalink


I am honestly beginning to strongly miss Russia's overt presence in Syria. I see the U.S. has positioned b-52's in Qatar to strike isis - so about all that making the sand glow and bombing the shit out of them - okay well that's fine, yet Obama and Kerry continue to try and topple Assad while arming al qaeda. wtf is this sick twisted foreign policy nightmare that keeps continuously reoccurring?

Posted by: Au | Apr 14 2016 13:14 utc | 1

I know where this is going ...

ISIS are Zombies.

Putin is Satan.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Apr 14 2016 13:31 utc | 2


MSM spin

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Apr 14 2016 13:38 utc | 3

b, 'Who, if not Islamic State fighters, is the U.S. bombing?'

Whoever is there. It's just like the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate's serial drone massacre policy : those killed are by definition the 'targets' the the NPPL was after. He has no idea who he's killing, but "he's really good at killing people." Syrians, Iraqis, Kurds, he may have accidentally killed a few Daesh. Collateral damage.

As well, the US pentagon announced that 'phase 1' of the war against Daesh was over ... they neglected to point out that the Syrians and Russians, Hezbollah and Iran initiated it, fought it, and concluded it.

Pay no attention to any of the fact-free nonsense that comes out of Washington DC.

U.S. finalizing plan to boost support for Syrian rebels: sources

Posted by: jfl | Apr 14 2016 13:38 utc | 4

@4 - absolutely agree with the reality that syrians, russians, hezbollah and iran initiated it, fought it and concluded it.

Posted by: Au | Apr 14 2016 13:49 utc | 5

Whackamole(or alleged) continues unabated.
Obomba isn't concerned,he's too into Game of Thrones,so much so he wants advance screenings.(Wapo)
sheesh.The most unserious POTUS ever.

Posted by: dahoit | Apr 14 2016 14:01 utc | 6

Obomba is a symptom, not a cause. The military / security, industrial, congressional complex is a symptom, not a cause.

There was no 'free land' when the first colonists arrived ... is was lived on. But the desire for what has been called 'freedom' from a post-feudal rentier society caused people to flee Europe and greedily vanquish the natives living on this so-called 'free' land. It was made free by destroying the peoples and their cultures who lived on that land.

Consequently it is simple greed that has caused the American Empire, sanctioned by the alleged 'Founding Fathers,' that has lead inexorably to the empire. Read carefully between the lines and what you see / hear from the current herd of idiots clamoring to be president (emperor for a time) is that America needs to return to its dominant place in the world: i.e., to overturning governments and supporting business so that the oligarchs can 'share' what they have stolen from others.

The reality, even on this blog / site, is a clarion call to be a ruthless empire led by our elites / oligarchs who in turn share their wealth with the white folks so they can claim they enjoy the American Dream.

Yes, we have a problem. But it isn't to recreate the sickness of the past ... it is to realize that a simpler, sustainable existence may be the solution.

Have a good day.

Posted by: rg the lg | Apr 14 2016 14:27 utc | 7

What does Pentagon bomb? Outhouses. Destroy the outhouses and latrines, and the morale of ISIS warriors will plunge. Trying to shit on bare sand is no fun.

More mysterious is the claim that so far, 23,000 of ISIS fighters were killed by USAF bombardments (and allies?). Jihadists value martyrdom and post their martyrs on the social media, so it should be possible to corroborate those numbers. Unless they are obtain with fracking technology: you inject hot water with proper additives (I guess, an enema can be applied) and you get copious gas exhalations as the result, and the gas can be process to obtain a plethora of useful products, like estimates of the enemy losses.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Apr 14 2016 16:00 utc | 8

If you Google "isis fighters killed 2016" you'll find articles from the past few days with estimates ranging from 25,000 to 27,000 killed since the start of the air campaign.

But it's clear from one of your links, quoting the Joint Task Force spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, that the Pentagon is pulling numbers out of its ass anyway. The spokesman says that drones are used to compare the number of moving figures before the strike with the number moving after the strike.

What if the target is a covered structure and the number of occupants isn't known, or it isn't possible to see afterwards who is moving or not? What if some of the bodies, before or after, aren't IS fighters, but administrative assistants, or maybe even bystanders?

One wire story from earlier this year had this to say:

"The Pentagon has previously been wary of giving body counts, but Wednesday’s figures come as officials hope to portray ISIS as being on the defensive after the jihadists suffered a series of setbacks - including last week’s loss of the Iraqi city of Ramadi."

So there is clearly a political component informing the body count estimates.

As for foreign fighters, just because 30,000 have traveled to Iraq and Syria doesn't mean they are all still alive. Many have died in fighting, and others by airstrikes. Also, the NYT story doesn't say that all joined IS, just "many".

Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Apr 14 2016 16:06 utc | 9

thanks b..

the pentagon lies, just like the rest of the us gov't... i agree with jfl@4.. there lack of clarity or outright lies are well described in their drone program which murders innocent people without trail in faraway countries they have no business being in... it is as plain as day..

Posted by: james | Apr 14 2016 16:08 utc | 10

So according to the US numbers, they are killing about .18 terrorists per bombing run. Super efficient, guys!

Posted by: WorldBLee | Apr 14 2016 16:46 utc | 11

There exists a relentless drive to expand greater Israel across MENA no matter the cost in life and property. Syria is one among the seven countries named in General Wesley Clark's (largely ignored) post-9ll revelation of the "seven countries in five years" to be destroyed.

Even though it is taking longer than ten years, and that it requires arming the Taliban with state-of-the-art weapons systems to fight Vladimir Putin's reared head (which can be seen from Alaska), the PTB will never abandon their quest to remake the MENA.

Posted by: fastfreddy | Apr 14 2016 16:59 utc | 12

What I'd like to know is how much each of those airstrikes cost the US taxpayer, just so we know if the American public got better value for their money in the Pentagon spending $500 million to train 5 takfiris or the Pentagon spending $XXX million in killing 500 jihadis with 2,750 airstrikes.

Posted by: Jen | Apr 15 2016 2:20 utc | 13

Send in the clowns. That's simple fucking math you arseholes.

What is it...? Use xxx bombs in xxx days or inventory will not be restocked...? I imagine the cactus had a pretty hard time of it this last year.

Well, good news is that the manufacturing sector hasn't been totally hollowed out in the US. War industry in very good shape.

Awesome job guys. You're awesome.

Posted by: MadMax2 | Apr 15 2016 2:51 utc | 14

@2 Jackrabbit

ISIS = zombies.
Of course. This explains everything.
Why didn't I think of that?

Posted by: Joanne Leon | Apr 15 2016 9:29 utc | 15

Between Zombies on tv and snake-handlers in their churches spinning simple-minded tales of God vs. Satan, people will buy that ISIS are Zombies.

All that ordinance won't kill 'em. How else can you splain it?

Watch for the roll out.

(MadMAx2 provides the real reason.)

Posted by: fast freddy | Apr 15 2016 10:47 utc | 16

Emul Pulsifer @9

They are running the good old Viet Cong dead scam. The US went out to bomb the Viet Cong durning the Vietnam war. Therefore anyone who died was (classified as) Viet Cong. Promotions and future seats on the MIC table depend on high body counts.

Posted by: Yonatan | Apr 15 2016 11:03 utc | 17

I can't help wondering what this diversified array of unverifiable and contradictory fairy tales is supposed to be deflecting attention from.

(a) Is it that Russia's intervention in Syria made the Yankee's past anti-ISIS efforts look so puny, half-assed and ineffectual that they've identified a need to rewrite history, by claiming Russian results as their own?

(b) Are they in Panic Mode and can't agree on how best to spin their bullshit?

(c) Is it intended to make everyone forget that the Western-backed fighters are such a diverse and disorganised herd of cats that the Pentagoons are worried about the likelihood that as many of their fighters are being killed by "other" killers as are being killed by US-approved killers?

(d) Or are they just reinforcing their God-given right to say stupid stuff when they've got nothing sensible or logical to say, but feel obliged to keep talking anyway?

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Apr 15 2016 14:00 utc | 18

Hoarse @18

e) complicity in creating, sustaining ISIS
(hey look how hard we are fighting ISIS!)

My answer: f) all of the above.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Apr 15 2016 14:21 utc | 19

The negotiations in Geneva have started up again (Wed 13 April aft.)

Reportedly Lavrov was angry about the elections in Syria, saying c’est pas le moment. He also said, though, that a political void was not desirable. The elections naturally enough show that Assad is in control of the country.

There are few or no new parties in these Syrian elections (the Kurds refused to participate), but a plethora of ‘Independent’ candidates (incl. some Kurds) as they are given somewhat more than 30K dollars for their campaigns.

Since the last round of negotiations, the Americans and the Russians meet twice a week ‘to find a way forward.’

de Mistura seems to be under the obligation to receive and listen to all ‘opposition’ groups. He first received Ryadh (Thursday - all as expected.) Then — The Brits somehow otained a voice (?) and stated Assad is cut off from reality. Then the ‘Moscow’ opposition, run by Quadra Jamil, reportedly a ‘friend-of-Putin’ and Randa Kassis (have not figured this out yet), and a new group from Latakia wafted to GE by the Russians. Last, a Swiss homegrown expat delegation grouped around a person called Haytham Mana.

Heh, all this might be turned into a one hour comic-acerbic theatre show.

-summary of Swiss Press, no links.

Posted by: Noirette | Apr 15 2016 15:43 utc | 20

@20 noirette

Syria govt. presents amendments to UN document

Bashar al-Ja’afari said his meeting with de Mistura focused on submitting amendments on 12 common guiding principles that were set in a UN document at the last round of talks last month.

He said discussions on those adjustments with the UN are expected to be held on Monday.

The news comes as a new round of UN-brokered peace talks kicked off in Geneva on Wednesday.

Ja'afari hailed the nearly two-hour meeting with de Mistura as “constructive and fruitful.” However, he declined to take questions, saying "There is not much to say now."

Probably a lot to say after Monday? This time the Syrians are at the Syrian peace talks. How novel.

Posted by: jfl | Apr 16 2016 0:57 utc | 21

jfl at 21 thx, we shall see. while reading the press reports i had the feeling that what the russkies are up to is drowning or rather diluting the 'opposition' with sorta multiple povs demands and so forth. i mean who or what is this 15 ppl delegation from latakia? seen under a less 'sneaky' lense, it is true that the russians with assad (he began it) are doing peace-making on the ground, getting factions to lay down arms, against a promise of amnesty, and participate in ...i don't quite know.. talks.. so if that has an upshot like being flown to the UN, it makes a kind of sense.

Posted by: Noirette | Apr 16 2016 14:28 utc | 22

Probably a lot to say after Monday? This time the Syrians are at the Syrian peace talks. How novel.
Posted by: jfl | Apr 15, 2016 8:57:27 PM | 21

Indeed! The Times They Are A-Changin'

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Apr 16 2016 14:36 utc | 23

Syrian Army, Palestinian committees reenter Yarmouk Camp as ISIS seizes 15th Street

Following the capture of 15th Street, ISIS received an unpleasant surprise when the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and their Palestinian allies from the Palestine Liberation Army (PLA), Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), and Fatah Al-Intifada reentered the Yarmouk Camp District after a short hiatus.

The Syrian Armed Forces and the Palestinian committees struck ISIS’ positions along Loubya Street and Safad Street, killing several terrorists after fierce firefight near the Tadamon District.

Recently, the Syrian Armed Forces and Palestinian committees have quietly advanced in the Al-Tadamon District, capturing a number of building blocks at the Palestine Street border with the Yarmouk Camp.

No surprise that the Palestinians are among the vanguard re-entering Yarmouk ....

Battle for east Damascus underway as Syrian Army & rebels gang up on ISIS – Map update

Meanwhile, Jaish al-Islam rebels and Islamic State militants are engaged in heavy clashes inside the town of Dumayr. Currently, the town is roughly controlled 50/50; however, ISIS fighters are completely cut off from receiving new supplies or reinforcements.

Remarkably, this region has witnessed a lasting local ceasefire between rebels and the SAA. Furthermore, for the first time in five years, rebel fighters and government troops are cooperating against a bigger foe; namely ISIS.

As a show of good will, the SAA recently allowed a Jaish al-Islam convoy to leave East Ghouta as to reinforce rebel fighters inside Dumayr city.

Thus, commanders of Jaish al-Islam and the Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) Ahmad al-Abdo Martyrs Brigade have exchanged phone numbers with local SAA commanders as the latter has provided rebel forces with much required air cover when needed in their clashes with ISIS.

Meanwhile, SAA troops of the 120th Brigade & 81st Brigade of the 2nd Division – backed by National Defence Forces (NDF) – are slowly advancing eastwards en route to the Sayqal Airbase which has been encircled by ISIS fighters for some time.

Thereby, both Syrian rebels and government soldiers are attempting to drive ISIS back into the eastern deserts of Syria. However, it seems highly unlikely that the Islamic State will surrender the area easily as it marks ISIS’ only genuine way of reaching the Syrian capital.

... but interesting that Jaysh Al-Islam and the FSA's Ahmad al-Abdo Martyrs Brigade are working with the SAA.

Posted by: jfl | Apr 17 2016 8:33 utc | 24

#20 Noirette

What is important about the Syrian elections is not how the vultures and opportunists spin them, but how the Syrian people now feel about their government.

Bear in mind that ISIS is composed mainly of international terrorists, and that the so-called democratic opposition are mercenary hirelings of CIA and company. How many actual Syrians are in rebellion against the elected government anyway - two percent? Or didn't anyone actually count them?

Moreover, why does Lavrov say "c'est pa le moment"? Now is not the time for what?

Posted by: rackstraw | Apr 17 2016 17:31 utc | 25


Posted by: scream | Apr 17 2016 17:34 utc | 26

Jennifer Aniston: #20 Noisette

Jennifer Aniston: What is important about the Syrian elections is not how the vultures and opportunists spin them, but how the Syrian people now feel about their government.

Jennifer Aniston: Bear in mind that ISIS is composed mainly of international terrorists, and that the so-called democratic opposition are mercenary hirelings of CIA and company. How many actual Syrians are in rebellion against the elected government anyway - two percent? Or didn't anyone actually count them?

Jennifer Aniston: Moreover, why does Lavrov say "c'est pa le moment"? Now is not the time for what?

Jennifer Aniston: Is It
Jennifer Aniston: Scream
Jennifer Aniston: Is It Scream
Mary Jane Watson: (Screaming)
Mary Jane: (Screaming)

Posted by: scream | Apr 17 2016 18:16 utc | 27

nice post

Posted by: davu | May 10 2016 10:09 utc | 28

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