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On 16 August, U.S. drones and warplanes began a close air campaign aimed at supporting the advance of Kurdish fighters moving toward the Mosul Dam. Kurdish sources commented that this was the "heaviest US bombing of militant positions since the start of air strikes."[157][158] On 16 August there were 9 U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq, on 17 August 2014.[159]

U.S. President Obama, in a letter to Congress on 17 August, explained this use of U.S. Forces as support to the Iraqi forces' campaign against terrorist group ISIL.[160][161] Obama said on 18 August that Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Iraqi troops, with help from the U.S., had retaken the Mosul Dam from ISIL.[158]

Timeline

During the early morning hours of 14 December, U.S. ground forces allegedly clashed with ISIL alongside the Iraqi Army and Tribal Forces near Ein al-Asad base, west of Anbar, in an attempt to repel them from the base of which includes about 100 U.S. advisers in it, when ISIL attempted to overrun the base. A field commander of the Iraqi Army in Al Anbar Governorate, said that "the U.S. force equipped with light and medium weapons, supported by F-18, was able to inflict casualties against fighters of ISIL organization, and forced them to retreat from the al-Dolab area, which lies 10 kilometers from Ain al-Assad base." Sheikh Mahmud Nimrawi, a prominent tribal leader in the region, added that "U.S. forces intervened because of ISIL started to come near the base, which they are stationed in so out of self-defense," he responded, welcoming the U.S. intervention, and saying "which I hope will not be the last."[107][173][174][175] This was said to be the first encounter between the United States and the Islamic State, in four years. However, this claim has been stated to be "false" by the Pentagon.[176]

In the Kurdish Sinjar offensive, 17–22 December, Kurdish troops, aided by U.S. airstrikes, connected the Sinjar Mountains to Peshmerga territory, enabling the

In the Kurdish Sinjar offensive, 17–22 December, Kurdish troops, aided by U.S. airstrikes, connected the Sinjar Mountains to Peshmerga territory, enabling the Yazidis who stayed on the mountains to be evacuated.[177] On 22 December, Kurdish Peshmerga forces pushed into the city of Sinjar, taking control of much of the city.

On 25 December 2014, Hassan Saeed Al-Jabouri, the ISIL governor of Mosul, who was also known as Abu Taluut, was killed by a US-led Coalition airstrike in Mosul. It was also revealed that the US planned to retake the city of Mosul in January 2015.[41]

In mid-January 2015, Canadian soldiers at the front lines between Iraqi and ISIL troops exchanged fire with ISIL fighters. Canadians were not hurt, but they "neutralized" an unknown number of ISIL militants.[108]

On 20 January 2015, the SOHR reported that al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIL, had been wounded in an airstrike in Al-Qa'im, an Iraqi border town held by ISIL, and as a result, withdrew to Syria.[178]

On 21 January 2015, the US began coordinating airstrikes with a Kurdish launched offensive, to help them begin the planned operation to retake the city of Mosul.Al-Qa'im, an Iraqi border town held by ISIL, and as a result, withdrew to Syria.[178]

On 21 January 2015, the US began coordinating airstrikes with a Kurdish launched offensive, to help them begin the planned operation to retake the city of Mosul.[179]

On 29 January 2015, Canadian special forces in Iraq came under fire from ISIL forces, causing the Canadian troops to return fire, killing some ISIL militants.[180]

Jordan, which had been conducting airstrikes on ISIL in Syria since September 2014, initiated airstrikes on ISIL targets in Iraq on 4 February 2015 (see details in the Airstrikes section).

On 17 February, it was revealed that ISIL had launched another major assault on Erbil, coming within 45 kilometres (28 mi) of the city.[181]On 17 February, it was revealed that ISIL had launched another major assault on Erbil, coming within 45 kilometres (28 mi) of the city.[181]

By late February, it was reported that ISIL was beginning to use chemical weapons, due to the gradual weakening of the organization,[182] and that the Iraqi Army was expected to join the Liberation of Mosul sometime in April 2015.[183]

At the beginning of March, the Iraqi government announced that they would soon launch a military operation with the Kurdish Peshmerga and other allies to regain the city of Mosul, which was under ISIL control since 10 June 2014. On 10 March, U.S.-led warplanes dropped scraps of paper in Mosul, advising residents to evacuate the city and stay away from ISIL locations, because of those imminent military operations.[184]

On 11 March 2015, ISIL threatened over loudspeakers to behead any civilian who tries to leave Mosul.[184]

18 March 2015 Coalition airstrike at the al-Baaj District, in the

On 11 March 2015, ISIL threatened over loudspeakers to behead any civilian who tries to leave Mosul.[184]

18 March 2015 Coalition airstrike at the al-Baaj District, in the Nineveh Governorate, near the Syrian border. It was reported that his wounds were so serious that the top ISIL leaders had a meeting to discuss who would replace him if he died. By 21 April, al-Bagdadi reportedly had not yet recovered enough from his injuries to resume daily control of ISIL.[185]

On 25 March 2015, the American-led Coalition joined the Second Battle of Tikrit, launching its first airstrikes on ISIL targets in the city center.[186][187] That night, US aircraft carried out 17 airstrikes in the center of Tikrit, which struck an ISIL building, two bridges, three checkpoints, two staging areas, two berms, a roadblock, and a command and control facility.[188] The US-led Coalition continued conducting airstrikes in Tikrit until 31 March,[188] when Iraqi forces entered the city center.[189]

On 8 April 2015, Iraqi forces, building on their advances in the Saladin Governorate, launched an offensive to liberate the Anbar Governorate from ISIL occupation, beginning with an offensive in the region around east Ramadi, backed by Coalition aircraft.[190] In retaliation, ISIL executed 300 people in the western Anbar Province. It was also reported that 10,000 Sunni tribal fighters would participate in the Anbar offensive.[191]

On 12 April, the Iraqi government declared that Tikrit was free of ISIL forces, stating that it was safe for residents to return home. However, many refugees from Tikrit still feared returning to the city.&#

On 12 April, the Iraqi government declared that Tikrit was free of ISIL forces, stating that it was safe for residents to return home. However, many refugees from Tikrit still feared returning to the city.[192] On 12 April, Abu Maria, the top ISIL leader in Tikrit, was killed by Iraqi forces at the Ajeel Oil Field near Tikrit, along with his top aide, after they were both caught trying to flee from the city.[43] However, later reports revealed that ISIL resistance persisted until 17 April.[193]

By mid-April 2015, ISIL had lost 25–30%, 5,000 to 6,500 square miles, in Iraq since their peak territorial influence in August 2014 to Iraqi and American coalition forces, leaving them still possessing 15,000 square miles in Iraq.[109]

On 17 April, Iraqi forces in Tikrit located and killed 130 ISIL sleeper agents, finally ending the Second Battle of Tikrit.[193][194] However, cleanup operations to remove the 5,000–10,000 IEDs left behind by ISIL are expected to take at least several months.[195]

On 22 April 2015 Iraqi government sources reported that Abu Alaa Afri, the self-proclaimed Caliph's deputy and a former Iraqi physics teacher, had been installed as the stand-in leader while Baghdadi recuperates from his injuries.[196]

On 3 May 2015, The Guardian reported that ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was recovering from severe injuries he received from an 18 March 2015 airstrike, in a part of Mosul. It was also reported that al-Baghdadi's spinal injury, which left him incapacitated, means that he may never be able to fully resume direct command of ISIL.[32]

According to the Iraqi defence ministry Abu Ala al-Afri, ISIL's Deputy Leader, was killed on 12 May 2015, in a US-led Coalition airstrike on a mosque in Tal Afar, where al-Afri was holding a meeting with other ISIL seni

According to the Iraqi defence ministry Abu Ala al-Afri, ISIL's Deputy Leader, was killed on 12 May 2015, in a US-led Coalition airstrike on a mosque in Tal Afar, where al-Afri was holding a meeting with other ISIL senior leaders. Akram Qirbash, ISIL's top judge, was also killed in the airstrike.[197][198] The U.S. Defense Department said that it could not corroborate the report.[197]

In August 2015, fifty intelligence analysts working for United States Central Command (CENTCOM) complained to the Pentagon's Inspector General and the media, alleging that CENTCOM's senior leadership was altering or distorting intelligence reports on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to paint a more optimistic picture of the ongoing war against ISIL forces in Iraq and Syria.[199] They were subsequently joined by civilian and Defense Intelligence Agency analysts working for CENTCOM. Members of the groups began anonymously leaking details of the case to the press in late-August.[200] In February 2017, the Inspector General of the United States Department of Defense completed its investigation and cleared the senior leadership of CENTCOM, concluding that "allegations of intelligence being intentionally altered, delayed or suppressed by top CENTCOM officials from mid-2014 to mid-2015 were largely unsubstantiated."[201]

October 2015

On 17 October 2015, an MQ-1B Predator drone from 20

On 17 October 2015, an MQ-1B Predator drone from 20th Attack Squadron, 432nd Wing, USAF, crashed after "experiencing electronic systems failure and loss of control due to a lightning strike" southeast of Baghdad; the drone was destroyed on impact.[202]

On 22 October 2015 during 30 U.S. special forces from Delta Force and members of a Kurdish Counter-terrorism unit conducted a raid on an ISIL prison compound 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) North of the town of Hawija in Iraq's On 22 October 2015 during 30 U.S. special forces from Delta Force and members of a Kurdish Counter-terrorism unit conducted a raid on an ISIL prison compound 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) North of the town of Hawija in Iraq's Kirkuk province.[203][204][205] The raid liberated approximately 70 hostages, including more than 20 members of the Iraqi Security Forces. Kurdistan Region asked U.S. special operations forces to support an operation to free hostages that were being held inside the prison and were going to be executed, Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler was killed in the raid, he was the first American service member killed in action as a result of enemy fire while fighting ISIL and at the time he was the first American to be killed in action in Iraq since November 2011.[206]

The US-led coalition began targeting the IS chemical weapons infrastructure with airstrikes and special forces raids, the coalition is focusing on destroying laboratories and equipment, whilst further special forces raids are planned to target IS chemical weapons experts.[207]

February 2016

US officials reported that Delta Force operatives have carried out operations to target, capture or kill top ISIL operatives in Iraq, reportedly beginning in late February 2016, after several weeks of covert preparation such as setting up safe houses, establishing informant ne

US officials reported that Delta Force operatives have carried out operations to target, capture or kill top ISIL operatives in Iraq, reportedly beginning in late February 2016, after several weeks of covert preparation such as setting up safe houses, establishing informant networks and coordinating operations with Iraqi and Peshmerga units. The Delta force operators are part of an Expeditionary Targeting Force that is also made up of operators from the US military's so-called "Tier One" Special Operations units, numbering around 200 personnel. Their main objectives are to gather enough intelligence from raids on terrorist-occupied compounds and hideouts, then from intelligence gathered at those sites they will give the ETF more intelligence about ISIL networks and quickly attack additional and related targets, in what's known as "targeted" missions. This strategy was tested during the May 2015 raid on Deir Ezzor in Syria. The ETF has so far collected enough intelligence about ISIL operations in Iraq in up to half a dozen locations that raids and field operations are ready to take place.[208] In late-February, U.S. special forces captured Sleiman Daoud al-Afari, an ISIL senior chemical weapons engineer, in a raid in Badoosh, north-west of Mosul, there were no US casualties. Afari's capture is the first known major success of this new strategy.[207]

March 2016

On 1 M

On 1 March 2016, a U.S. special operations assault force captured an ISIL operative during a raid in northern Iraq and is expected to apprehend and interrogate a number of others in coming months.[209][210]

On 19 March, Staff Sergeant Louis F. Cardin [Louis F. Cardin [ru], a field artilleryman with the Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion 6th Marines, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, was killed by an ISIL rocket attack on Firebase Bell near Makhmur, 8 other Marines were also injured, the Marines returned fire with their artillery. The Marines from the 26th MEU first began moving into the area just 2 weeks before, deploying from the USS Kearsarge. The base will be used by the U.S. military to support the Iraqi 15th Division when they attempt to retake Mosul and the Marines had finished setting up and testing their howitzers just 2 or 3 days before the attack. The joint taskforce overseeing the campaign against ISIL announced it was deploying additional Marines from the 26th MEU to Iraq to join the roughly 3,700 U.S. troops already deployed there to combat ISIS. There are already more than 4,000 Marines and sailors who have been deployed to Iraq since October.[211][212][213][214][215]

On 18 April 2016, U.S. Special forces and Kurdish forces launched a raid on Hammam al-'Alil which killed Salman Abu Shabib al-Jebouri; a senior IS commander who was a leading member of the IS military council, two of his aides were also killed. US Defence Secretary Ash Carter announced that the US is to send 200 extra troops; the majority of them being special forces and 8 Apache attack helicopters to Iraq, the remainder will include trainers, security forces for the advisers, and maintenance crews for the Apaches, increasing the number of US personnel in the country to around 4,100. The US also plans to give Kurdish Peshmerga forces, more than $400m in assistance.[216][217]

On 25 April, a U.S. warplane dropped a guided bomb that destroyed an SUV occupied by IS leader Raphael Saihou Hostey near Mosul, Hostey was a recruiter for IS, U.S. drone operators had been stalking him for days before the order came to kill him.[21

On 25 April, a U.S. warplane dropped a guided bomb that destroyed an SUV occupied by IS leader Raphael Saihou Hostey near Mosul, Hostey was a recruiter for IS, U.S. drone operators had been stalking him for days before the order came to kill him.[218]

On 3 May 2016, Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Charles Keating IV [ru]; a U.S. Navy SEAL, was killed by small arms fire during an ISIL assault on a Peshmerga position, approximately 3 to 5 kilometers behind enemy lines, near the town of Tel Skuf, 28–30 km north of Mosul, the SEAL killed was part of a 30-man SEALs unit deployed to Iraq as part of a special forces advise and assist mission. 125 ISIL militants broke into the position using three truck bombs followed by bulldozers which cleared the wreckage away, the U.S. responded with 11 aircraft; F-15s F-16s, A-10s, B-52s and 2 drones carrying out 31 airstrikes; which destroyed two more truck bombs stopping the attack, 58 militants were killed and more than 20 of their vehicles were also destroyed, Keating was part of a Navy SEAL quick reaction force called in by the Peshmerga. The IS attack is part of their attacks on multiple fronts overnight to obtain new ground, Iraqi military sources said that special forces had foiled an attack by five suicide bombers in the village of Khirbirdan and Peshmerga forces repelled an IS assault on Wardak. U.S. Army Colonel Steve Warren labeled the offensive as one of the most complex battlefield operations launched by ISIL since December 2015.[219][220][221][222]

As of early May 2016, there are more than 5,500 U.S. military personnel in Iraq; 3,870 are deployed to advise and assist local forces fighting IS militants, the rest includes special operations personnel, logistics workers and troops on temporary rotations.