Information Scarce, Warnings Mount as US Expands War in Iraq

The U.S. unleashed fresh onslaughts of air strikes on ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) positions in Iraq on Wednesday and Thursday—the latest in an expanding  war campaign where public information about the details and aims of the operation remain sparse.

U.S. Central Command announced that it used drones, fighter jets, and attack aircraft to launch 14 air strikes in the vicinity of the Mosul Dam in northern Iraq on Wednesday, attacks that were followed by six additional air strikes on Thursday. According to the Central Command, this brings the total number of air strikes on Iraq since August 8 to 90—with 57 of them near the Mosul Dam.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military is weighing the possibility of sending up to 300 additional U.S. troops to Iraq to provide “security” around Baghdad, an anonymous U.S. official recently told the Associated Press. The U.S. has already deployed at least 750 military personnel to Iraq, in addition to the 100 who work from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. Of the 750, 160 are stationed at “joint operation command centers” in Baghdad and Erbil where they directly work with Iraqi and Kurdish military forces to wage military operations against ISIS.

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“The crisis in today’s Iraq is not a result of a natural disaster — it is a direct consequence of earlier U.S. military interventions. Much of the destruction in Iraq’s infrastructure, state legitimacy and national identity was either caused directly by the United States or happened under its watch. —Raed Jarrar, American Friends Service Committee

The U.S. is also funneling arms into Iraq. Obama stated earlier this week that the U.S. has “urgently provided additional arms and assistance to Iraqi forces, including Kurdish and Iraqi security forces who are fighting on the front lines.” And the U.S. recently announced that, with former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki out of the picture, military and economic aid to Iraq will be increased.

However, as the Associated Press reports, the public information about U.S. military attacks on Iraq by ground and air remain “thin.” It is not clear which military branches are carrying out the air strikes, and U.S. Central Command is refusing to publicly disclose which bases are being used to launch attacks. The U.S. also is not disclosing information about civilians and combatants in Iraq killed and wounded in the attacks. Furthermore, an estimated thousands of U.S. military and security contractors remain in Iraq, their total number not publicly known.