On board the US aircraft carrier that halted ISIS at Kurdistan’s gates

2017/04/26 | 11:20

(Iraq News)- Fighter jets taking off from USS George H.W.

Bush have been crucial in the fight against ISIS in the last two and a half years.

  

The weapons of this aircraft carrier have played a major role in bringing ISIS to its current weak state in both Iraq and Syria.

Many Kurds are familiar with this ship because it was from here that fighter jets took off to bomb ISIS in the summer of 2014 when its militants were knocking on the gates of the Kurdistan Region.

ISIS has been pushed back in Iraq and its capabilities shrunk.

But the aircraft carrier and its staff are determined to stay around until that group has been completely destroyed.

USS George H.W.

Bush is central to a total of 7,000 personnel, five destroyers, two cruisers and more than 70 jets.

USS George H.W.

Bush and two other aircraft carriers have been rotating in the region, but this one alone has carried out more than 2,000 sorties against ISIS and in the first weeks of its current deployment it has dropped more than 700 weapons on the radical group.

One of these jets flew to Syria, bombed ISIS near Tabqa and sent the image back to the command center.

I have covered the war against ISIS by Iraqi and Kurdish forces on the ground for a year and a half and I have seen the damage these bombs inflict on the enemy and the effect they have on the morale of those battling on the ground.

In Gayara in northern Iraq I saw many oil wells set ablaze by ISIS militants to create a cover against air strikes.

But the F18s that fly from here have no regard for such tricks.

At least 20 jets are in the air at any given time.

Some pilots stay in the air for seven hours and they refuel twice or three times in midair.

At one point these fighter jets had vast territories to cover.

They were bombing ISIS from the gates of Baghdad to Ramadi, from the Nineveh plains to the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani.

Now their targets are mostly confined to the western side of Mosul.

The enemy territory has shrunk but it also means a challenge.

For Iraqi troops in Mosul the challenge is the same.

It is a house to house fight in areas where many civilians live.

But soldiers on the ground still call these jets to destroy ISIS bunkers or deadly truck bombs that come at them on every corner.

This aircraft carrier and its accompanying cruisers and destroyers are too big and too powerful to only fight ISIS.

They are here to ensure the flow of commerce, counter threats to America’s regional allies, and deter piracy in the Indian Ocean.

But as long as ISIS militants roam in parts of Iraq and Syria, these jets and their bombs will fly and seek them out day and night. 










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