Operation Inherent Resolve, the US military operation against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), seems anything but that. Going by the fast-changing developments in the war zone, the natural question that arises is whether the US-led coalition, contrary to its claims, is serious enough to tackle the dreaded militant outfit, which appears to be spreading its tentacles far and wide as seen in the Paris massacre and the deadly attack in San Bernardino, California. Consider this: US Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh has gone on record to say that his Air Force is running out of bombs to drop on ISIS targets; Colonel Steve Warren, Operation Inherent Resolve’s spokesman admitted Wednesday “we didn’t have any targets over the last couple of days, or not enough targets.” The Daily Telegraph quoted a British source as saying “we are already starting to run out of targets.”
As per reports, the US-led coalition has carried out 2,934 air strikes so far, an average of seven a day — the strike rate is just a quarter of the fire power used during the Kosovo campaign! On the other hand, Russia has carried out 1,458 strikes in the last nine days, an average of 162 a day. And, it is helping the Assad regime in Syria wrestle the iconic Palmyra from the hands of the ISIS. With Turkey, a NATO member, taking on Russia, going so far as to down the latter’s fighter plane on the flimsiest of reasons, suspicions in some quarters over the western powers’ intentions have only strengthened. Moscow has even cited evidence to prove that Turkey and its leaders were involved in helping the IS sell oil in the black market. Iran has said much the same thing. Interestingly, though Turkey has strongly denied the allegation, the United States has claimed the amount of oil smuggled was negligible.
Nothing explains NATO’s reluctance to cooperate with the Russians in dismantling the ISIS. The fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad continues to be the sticking point between the Russians and the Americans. But, instead of talking it out and destroying the ISIS collectively, the US and its ally Turkey are further muddying the waters. It’s time they realised that turning a blind eye to the ISIS is not in their interest.