Pentagon: US averaging 5 strikes per day on ISIS

The U.S. military is carrying out an average of five strikes a day against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) since the campaign began in August, according to the Pentagon.

A U.S. Central Command spokesman said Thursday that 209 airstrikes had been carried out in Iraq and 30 in Syria since Aug. 8, an average just under 5 strikes a day.


That figure does not include airstrikes conducted by partner nations, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who joined the U.S. in striking ISIS in Syria this week. 

The pace of strikes has caused frustration among some Republicans, who say the administration is moving too slowly against ISIS.

"116,000 airstrikes in the first Gulf War when Kuwait was invaded were done in a matter of several weeks," Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Thursday on CNN. 

Royce said he supported President Obama's strategy of an expanded air campaign in Iraq and Syria backed by an international coalition, as well as training and arms for local forces.  

"But to do that it takes a strategy and it takes a robust effort," he said. 

Officials say they are focused on the overall effect of the strikes and not the number of air attacks or amount of munitions dropped. They add, though, that it is too soon to tell how effective the strikes are.

The pace of the air campaign suits some Democrats, who are warning against heading into a new war in the Middle East. 

On Thursday, Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.) said she was "deeply concerned" the strikes against ISIS could turn into an expanded and open-ended commitment. 

"We should not be making near-term decisions with long-term consequences without robustly debating these questions and fully considering the substantial and unpredictable risks of these actions," she said in an op-ed

U.S. airstrikes in Iraq began on Aug. 8, initially to stop ISIS's advance in northern Iraq, to support humanitarian operations on Mt. Sinjar and Amerli, where the group threatened members of the minority Yazidi sect and to protect the Mosul and Haditha dams. 

The strikes expanded to other parts of Iraq on Sept. 14 as part of President Obama's intensified efforts against ISIS. Earlier this week, the U.S. and allies began bombing ISIS targets in Syria.

So far, 337 targets have been destroyed or damaged, according to a tally kept by The Washington Post.

Most of the targets to date have been vehicles stolen by ISIS from the Iraqi military, but the tally also includes buildings, command posts, fighting positions, supply boats and weapons caches. 

On Wednesday, the U.S. military, along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, struck 12 small-scale oil refineries in Syria that had been seized by ISIS. The raid, though, did not destroy the refineries, in hope of saving them for the moderate Syrian opposition. 

"It wasn't about obliterating the refineries off the face of the map. It was about degrading their ability to use these refineries," Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said Thursday.

"They're not going to be using these refineries for some time," he said.

—Updated at 10:23 p.m.