US-led coalition’s warplanes have reportedly sunk over 100 ISIS boats, destroying 65 of them this month, as part of efforts to blunt the terror group’s use of watercraft to transport fighters and conduct attacks.
While Iraq is nearly entirely land-locked, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers that cross that country are navigable, and ISIS has been using watercraft for a variety of purposes, including transporting fighters and conducting improvised explosive attacks.
US and allied warplanes have sunk over 100 ISIS boats, destroying 65 of them in September alone, according to the international military coalition.
The US-led anti-ISIS coalition provided CNN with video of a September 10 airstrike against an ISIS tactical unit aboard a boat near Bayji, Iraq.
Barges, skiffs and motorised watercraft have been observed operating along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers for the purpose of ferrying ISIS fighters and equipment across the rivers, Operation Inherent Resolve spokesperson Colonel Joseph Scrocca was quoted as saying.
It happens often when anti-ISIS Iraqi troops control the area’s bridges, he said.
Coalition bombs have also targeted bridges used by ISIS, thereby further necessitating the terror group’s reliance on boats.
“They have also been used by Daesh for waterborne improvised explosive device attacks,” the spokesperson said, using another name for the terror group.
But while the US and its allies have been striking ISIS boats for months, the last few weeks have seen a major uptick in the number that have been sunk, with over 50 destroyed on September 16 and 14. Those strikes occurred near the towns of Qayyara and Sultan Abdallah, which lie along the Tigris River south of the ISIS-held city of Mosul.
Experts think that the increase in the rate of strikes is tied to the upcoming effort by the US and Iraq to retake Mosul, which military officials have said could start as early as October.
As part of its defensive efforts, “ISIS is going to try and move fighters up and down the river,” retired US Navy Cdr. Chris Harmer said.