The Syrian border town of Kobane is still in danger of falling to the Islamic State, more than a week after the U.S. military began launching airstrikes on militants there regularly. Hundreds of fighters have been killed, the Pentagon’s press secretary said Wednesday, but even more are swarming the area.
How frequently is the U.S. military dropping bombs around Kobane? This graphic, developed for Checkpoint, gets at the raw numbers of airstrikes in Syria recently, and compares them with what is occurring against the Islamic State in Iraq:
The graphic shows the number of airstrikes in both Iraq and Syria each day since Sept. 23, when they began in Syria. The initial night of 14 airstrikes in Syria was complemented with an additional eight strikes that included a total of 47 cruise missiles. But the United States and its partners have been dropping bombs and missiles at a rate in recent days not seen in the entire campaign against the Islamic State.
In the last three days, the United States has launched 54 airstrikes in Syria, 53 of them around Kobane. The latest wave of 14, announced by U.S. Central Command on Thursday morning, struck 19 buildings, two command posts, three fighting positions, three sniper positions, one staging location and one heavy machine gun, U.S. military officials said.
In Iraq, meanwhile, the airstrikes have slowed considerably. Five were announced Wednesday, but there were none on Monday and Thursday and one on Tuesday.
Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said Wednesday that the number of airstrikes in Kobane has risen for a couple of reasons, primarily the level of Islamic State activity there.
But he added that the number of airstrikes is down in Iraq recently because of a spate of bad weather in the central part of the country. While U.S. planes can fly in it, the weather has limited the military’s ability to perform aerial surveillance and reconnaissance missions, like drone flights.
Kirby said the U.S. will continue to launch airstrikes in Iraq as necessary. The air war around Kobane is centered on denying the militants an area they clearly want as a sanctuary, the admiral said.
“The more they want it, the more resources they apply to it, the more targets we have to hit,” Kirby said. “And part of what we’re trying to do is put pressure on them, and the strikes against them and their positions in and around Kobane allow us to do that.”