The Middle East Channel

U.S.-led Airstrikes and Kurdish Forces Target Islamic State Militants

The U.S.-led coalition and Kurdish forces have continued a battle over the Syrian town of Kobani, near the border with Turkey, though have not appeared yet to stave off an advance by Islamic State militants. On Tuesday, Kurdish forces launched offensives on three fronts against Islamic State positions in northern Iraq. After reports that a ...

Stringer/Getty Images
Stringer/Getty Images

The U.S.-led coalition and Kurdish forces have continued a battle over the Syrian town of Kobani, near the border with Turkey, though have not appeared yet to stave off an advance by Islamic State militants. On Tuesday, Kurdish forces launched offensives on three fronts against Islamic State positions in northern Iraq. After reports that a U.S.-led strike in Syria hit mills and grain storage areas in northern Syria killing civilian workers, the U.S. military said an airstrike targeted Islamic State vehicles close to a grain storage facility near the town of Manbij, though it had no evidence yet of civilian deaths. U.S. Air Force Major General Jeffrey Harrigian said that U.S. airstrikes are forcing Islamic State militants to change tactics, abandoning large formations and "dispersing themselves." A commander from the Free Syrian Army has said U.S.-led strikes in Syria could pose a problem for "moderate" opposition forces in their conflict against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Rebel fighters have said that suspicion of U.S. motives and casualties caused by U.S.-led strikes are endangering public support for the Western-backed opposition.

Headlines

  • Iran is offering a military grant to the Lebanese army to help fight extremism along the Syrian border, according to an Iranian official, and to consolidate security in Lebanon.
  • Islamic State militants have released a third video of hostage John Cantlie, in which the British journalist criticized President Obama’s speech on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
  • At the U.N. General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a nuclear-armed Iran poses a greater threat than Islamic State militants.
  • The United Nations called talks between opposing parties of the Libyan parliament positive and constructive though an alliance of Misratan militias has rejected the U.N. call for a cease-fire.
  • A Bahraini court has found nine Shiite men guilty of smuggling weapons sentencing them to life in prison and revoking their citizenship.

Arguments and Analysis

Estimating the Cost of Operations Against ISIL‘ (Todd Harrison, John Stillion, Eric Lindsey, and Jacob Cohn, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments)

"The cost of U.S. military operations against ISIL through September 24 is likely between $780 and $930 million. The cost of future operations depends primarily on how long operations continue, the intensity of air operations, and whether additional ground forces are deployed beyond what is already planned. Assuming a moderate level of air operations and 2,000 deployed ground forces, the costs would likely run between $200 and $320 million per month. If air operations are conducted at a higher pace and 5,000 ground forces are deployed, the costs would be between $350 and $570 million per month. If operations expand significantly to include the deployment of 25,000 U.S. troops on the ground, as some have recommended, costs would likely reach $1.1 to $1.8 billion per month. On an annualized basis, the lower-intensity air operations could cost $2.4 to $3.8 billion per year, the higher-intensity air operations could cost $4.2 to $6.8 billion per year, and deployment of a larger ground contingent could drive annual costs as high as $13 to $22 billion."

What Arab partners will get in return for strikes on Syria‘ (Lars Berger, Open Democracy)

"The White House clearly hopes that the participation of Arab partners will undermine that radical Islamist narrative of ‘the West versus Islam’ and instead reframe the conflict as another chapter in the decades-old struggle between the vast moderate Muslim majority and a tiny minority of radicals. But, aside from these explicit American goals, Obama’s new Arab partners have interests of their own."

— Mary Casey

 Twitter: @casey_mary
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